Kiambu denies stench from Gatundu morgue

Kiambu County Health CEC Dr Joseph Murega and Chief Ofiicer Dr. Andrew Toro inside the Gatundu Level 4 hospital Mortuary on Friday./NGANGA THAIRU
Kiambu County Health CEC Dr Joseph Murega and Chief Ofiicer Dr. Andrew Toro inside the Gatundu Level 4 hospital Mortuary on Friday./NGANGA THAIRU

The Kiambu government has described as unfounded and malicious reports that circulated on social media on Friday that a foul smell of dead bodies is making the lives of residents who live near the morgue unbearable.

The reports described a pathetic situation of the 52-year-old facility, indicating unfrozen bodies are piled on the floor and called for its immediate closure.

However, speaking during a visit to the mortuary on Friday afternoon, Health executive Dr Joseph Murega denied there was a foul smell from the morgue, saying the bodies are preserved through embalmment as opposed to cold room facilities after engineers declared the refrigeration unserviceable in October last year and as such, no smell can emanate from the corpses.

“Once a body has been scientifically preserved through embalmment, it can stay for even over 10 years without producing any smell. We can only describe the reports on social media as either ignorance, malice or both as you can see for yourselves,” Murega said.

He took journalists around the morgue which was holding nine bodies lying on tables at the time of the visit.

Murega, however, agreed the mortuary, which has a holding capacity of nine bodies, has been overstretched after the expansion of the hospital. The hospital now has an inpatient capacity of 250 and a maximum of 300, from a very low number when it was started over 50 years ago.

County Health chief officer Dr Adrew Toro, who accompanied Murega, said plans are underway to construct a modern 36-capacity mortuary at the hospital and the designs and bill are ready. The county government is in the process of procuring the services of a contractor.

Toro, who has served as a medical superintendent at the hospital in the past, lauded the county for expanding the facility which now has a casualty, an expanded outpatient and inpatient wing and reliable maternity services implemented in the Phase 1 of a master development plan. The mortuary was supposed to be in the second phase.

In August 2013, former Gatundu South MP Jossy Ngugi was booed by a crowd in Gatundu Stadium when he urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to expand the mortuary.

Uhuru criticized Ngugi for speaking in public about the mortuary.

“Jossy, I have stayed with these people for 10 years and I know some things are better discussed in private,” the president told the MP

The President was by then commissioning the construction of a new service wing funded by the Chinese government and opening a new ward at the hospital constructed by the government.