Kenyan Hospital Plans to Dispose of Over 500 Unclaimed Bodies

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Kenya's largest public hospital, KNH, has issued a notice stating its intention to dispose of over 500 unclaimed bodies.

The largest referral hospital in Kenya has announced its intention to dispose of over 500 unclaimed bodies. Families have a seven-day window to identify and claim the 541 bodies at the Kenyatta National Hospital mortuary, as stated in a notice on the hospital's website.

Failure to do so will prompt the hospital to seek court authorization for disposal. Notably, over three quarters of the bodies are of children who passed away since the middle of the previous year.

While most of the names and ages of the deceased were made public, the identities of over a dozen adults remained unknown. According to Kenyan public health laws, bodies cannot be kept at a public mortuary for more than 10 days before burial. Violating this regulation incurs penalties, and non-compliance could lead to a prison sentence of up to six months.

Instances of unclaimed bodies are not uncommon in the East African nation. Authorities attribute this to relatives often being unaware of the deaths or choosing to abandon their loved ones due to high hospital and mortuary fees. Any bodies remaining uncollected after the grace period are laid to rest in mass graves.

The Kenyan government has previously made similar announcements when the public fails to claim their deceased kin.

In 2023, the Nairobi county government announced its decision to dispose of 292 unclaimed bodies that had been lying in three of its mortuaries.

The public was instructed to identify and collect their bodies within seven days through announcements made beforehand.

The move has stirred a debate in the county, particularly because some of the bodies are suspected to be individuals who died of suicide. Concerns have been raised that families of those who died by suicide may not be aware of their loved one's demise.

Additionally, the county government's notice listed other causes of death, including accidents, natural deaths, murders, sudden deaths, and cases of mob justice.