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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Video Depicts Bodies Abandoned Outside an Overcrowded Mortuary in Papua New Guinea

The horrifying video was recorded between Christmas Day and New Year's Eve by an anonymous individual

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PAPUA NEW GUINEA: The stresses on the nation’s health system have been underscored by footage of nearly a dozen bodies left to rot outside one of Papua New Guinea’s largest hospitals, prompting calls for urgent reform.

The three-minute clip shows 11 bodies inside what looks to be a shed being used as a makeshift morgue, lying on bunk beds and gurneys. The windows and doors are left open to the outdoors, and the structure lacks adequate air conditioning. The bodies are left there until room in the mortuary becomes available for family members to pick them up.

The horrifying video was recorded between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve by an anonymous individual and made public on a popular Facebook group. He describes in it how long the bodies had been kept outside in Pidgin.

The tropical weather is seen as causing the bodies to deteriorate quickly. Another body is brought in by family members as the man is recording.

The Port Moresby general hospital issued a statement in reaction to the video stating that the mortuary was at capacity. 

It claimed that a substantial portion of the morgue’s high overcrowding was caused by relatives who were tardy in picking up the dead.

It stated that a mass burial will take place the next week and that there were 20 dead waiting to enter the morgue. The hospital reported that in 2023, the government will attempt to address the problem.

Some dead hadn’t been picked up, according to Dr. Kone Sobi, head of medical services at Port Moresby General Hospital, since relatives couldn’t afford one of the city’s private burial homes. He stated that a large funeral was scheduled for Thursday.

Because the mortuary was already full, the hospital last performed a mass burial of the unclaimed dead in 2021. 

The mortuary, which was constructed 30 years ago, was originally designed to accommodate 120 bodies but now holds roughly 200.

The state hospital, according to Port Moresby’s deputy governor, Dadi Toka Jnr., needs a new mortuary facility.

“Discussions are being held as we speak; we are looking at options, and some designs have been presented, so the announcements will be made in due course.”

Outside the main morgue, there are three more container coolers with a 62-body capacity. Up to 20 bodies can be brought into the facility each day, with the amount rising during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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