In April, the doors of the morgue at the Southern Regional Hospital were closed as a result of lack of storage and cooling units. There was an issue at the San Ignacio Hospital as well regarding storage of bodies. The Director of Health Services says that over a hundred thousand dollars has been spent on procurement of storage units for both the Southern Regional and San Ignacio hospitals. Dr. Manzanero revealed that the morgue at the Southern Regional Hospital has been functional once again for a week and explained that primarily the morgue was meant for temporary storage of bodies of people that died at those institutions.
Dr. Marvin Manzanero – Director of Health Services: “It is in Dangriga that we did not have a functional morgue. As far as I know it was repaired seven days ago; it was up, functional. We have started the procurement process of getting four more storage units for Dangriga. That is going to cost approximately $98,000 Belize. That is just the procurement, it doesn’t talk about the installation, shipment and all of that. We are also procuring units for the San Ignacio Community Hospital. This is all in an attempt to try to scale up the storage units that we have at every facility across the country.”
Jose Sanchez: “ Is it an issue of more people dying or is just a matter of managing the facilities that we have?”
Dr. Marvin Manzanero – Director of Health Services: “It is a tricky situation, you know hospital morgues which is what we have was really made for people who are dying within the hospital facility and you are deciding whether they will go through an autopsy, whether giving family members time to come and get the body but unfortunately what I think it has turned out to be is a storage facility for all police cases. We have people who die at home who are usually taken to the morgue and are there for two-three weeks. We have had cases of four weeks of storing a body and I don’t think the hospital morgues are set up to be a storage unit for so long. We are talking about hours, max two, three days and we had done a morgue policy last year in January to try to adjust the situation but it is how you educate people. You don’t want to turn away people so sometimes you have your hospital morgue but it is filled with bodies that are not categories or people that died inside the hospital but we also can’t oust it so how do you balance that. Part of our situation will be launching an educational campaign for people to understand that there is a specific function of a morgue inside a hospital and I think what we are aware of is that we need to have funeral homes and understand that we don’t have funeral homes. We are not in the business of dressing bodies, cleaning bodies, it is a hospital morgue and that is the function of the morgue, we have shied away from it in a sense.”
Manzanero indicated that though the Ministry of Health is doing the best it can, funeral home services which are offered as private enterprises in other countries should be offered in Belize.