Ministry of Health Issues Statement on the Morgue Situation at the Southern Regional Hospital

Belmopan. April 23, 2019. The Ministry of Health views with concern a press release issued by the People’s United Party in reference to the morgue situation at the Southern Regional Hospital in Dangriga Town. The Ministry considers this to be of poor taste in terms of politicizing the death of an individual in search of political mileage.

The Ministry offers its sincerest apology once more to the family and expresses regret that the family has experienced this unfortunate situation due to poor communication at the local level. The Ministry has conveyed to the family that it is prepared to offer any additional assistance and is making its utmost efforts to correct this systemic failure.

The Ministry of Health has no problem acknowledging that there is a need to purchase equipment for the morgue to improve services not only at Southern Regional Hospital but throughout the country. Although the Ministry is faced with competing priorities, management has made the decision to enforce the existing morgue policy which includes the hospital’s responsibility to transport bodies to either the Western Regional Hospital or the Punta Gorda Community Hospital morgue or otherwise if requested by the family for storage. A vehicle is assigned to provide the necessary transportation should the family require. In this latest incident, this was not communicated to the family by the attending medical officer who was called upon to fill in the death certificate of the deceased, who passed away at home and was brought to the hospital by the Police Department. Immediately upon being informed of the situation, management made contact with the family only to find out that the body had already been sent to Belize City.

The Ministry will invest in the repairs of the present morgue units while at the same time preparing to make a case for additional funding to purchase new units. Initial repairs to the existing unit led management to believe there would be some time for tendering and procurement, however, a few days ago, management was once again informed that the unit was down and that there was a need to procure a vital part for its functionality. This was ordered expeditiously, but unfortunately, the Ministry is still awaiting a time for delivery of the part that will hopefully have the morgue up and working over the medium term within a week’s time.

The Ministry of Health is working to restore the Southern Regional Hospital morgue and asks that the community cooperates during this time. The Ministry once again sincerely regrets this miscommunication and is making every effort to restore morgue services at the Southern Regional Hospital.