PILED IN COLD ROOMS

Mass grave for 418 unclaimed bodies at KNH

Corpses will be buried at Lang'ata Cemetery after 21-day notice lapses

In Summary
  • Public health officials are alarmed over the increasing number of unclaimed bodies across the city's public health facilities and at City Mortuary.
  • In 2006, Kenya's two main public mortuaries, City Mortuary and KNH mortuary lost millions in uncollected revenue from unclaimed bodies.
Kenyatta National Hospital.
PILED-UP COLD ROOMS: Kenyatta National Hospital.
Image: KNH

Nairobi residents have seven days to identify and collect 418 unclaimed bodies at Kenyatta National Hospital, or they will be buried in a mass grave.

If they are unclaimed, the hospital will seek authority to dispose of them as permitted under Public Health Act Cap 242 of Subsidiary Legislation Public Health Mortuaries Rules, 1991.

They will be placed in a mass grave at Lang'ata Cemetery after a 21-day notice expires.

Public health officials have expressed concern over the increasing number of unclaimed bodies across the city's public health facilities and at City Mortuary.

The unclaimed bodies represent millions of shillings in hospital debt for treatment. 

In March, Nairobi Metropolitan Services called upon members of the public to collect 119 unclaimed bodies at city morgues.

The bodies have been accumulating at the morgues since May last year.

City mortuary has a storage capacity of 160 bodies, Mbagathi has a capacity of 120. When capacity is exceeded. The bodies pile up in cold rooms.

In October 2019, chief magistrate Oganyo allowed City Hall to dispose of 97 unclaimed bodies at Mbagathi Hospital.

Cap 242 of the Public Health Act says an unclaimed body should be removed from a mortuary within two weeks or else it is disposed off in a mass grave after public officers obtain court permission.

Between 2003 and 2006, City Mortuary disposed of 2,500 unclaimed bodies, KNH had 3,000 bodies.

In 2006, Kenya's two main public mortuaries, City Mortuary and KNH mortuary lost millions of shillings in uncollected revenue from unclaimed bodies.

In five months, the two mortuaries had lost about Sh5 million from the disposal of more than 1,500 unclaimed bodies.

(Edited by Bilha Makokha)