Bodies get rotten quickly, stink due to lack of proper facilities
Without a second thought, many people turn to Dhaka Medical College Hospital to get treated considering it to be both dependable and affordable. But when it comes to preserving dead bodies, the college’s mortuary can be deemed shabby as three out of its five freezers have remained out of order for over a year now.
One of these two functional freezers works properly, but it is used to preserve bodies for a long time. So, the authorities have to rely on the other freezer, which malfunctions very often, for day-to-day cases.
Owing to the situation, the morgue cannot accommodate even the least number of bodies, causing the relatives of the deceased to suffer immensely.
Each freezer has the capacity of preserving four bodies.
The story does not just stop there; all three air conditioners (ACs) of the morgue remained out of order for at least three years but were finally fixed three weeks ago after repeatedly pressuring the authorities concerned for resolving the issue.
The morgue in-charge, Md Sekandar, said: "The situation has changed a bit as all the three ACs are working now, and for that reason, despite the freezer crisis, we can keep bodies at least under the ACs, which keep the bodies in a bit better condition for two days.
“Just a few days back, we kept dead bodies on the floor or stretchers just under the fan, and sometimes even without a fan.”
However, the morgue officials claimed that the pressure had lessened on the DMC morgue as Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Sir Salimullah Medical College have morgues now.
Once the forensic experts used to conduct autopsies on eight to 10 bodies a day but the number has now dropped to two.
“Bodies kept in one of the freezers for longer periods cannot be shifted without permission from the police. It means that the other freezer remains occupied all the time,” he said.
Hence, the bodies could not be handed over to Anjuman Mufidul Islam, a social welfare organization collecting unidentified bodies from various police stations and hospitals in the country, the official said.
Dr Mohammad Maksud, head of the Forensic Medicine Department at DMCH, claimed that they had already informed the authorities concerned about the sorry state of the morgue.
"My duty is to inform the government and I have done my part. Now the government will take care of the troubled freezers, which, I hope, will be repaired soon," he said.
Bad odor keeps spreading
During a visit to the morgue, the reporter found two bodies kept lying on the ground of the corridor of the Forensic Medicine Department and both were stinking strongly, making it difficult to breathe.
Relatives of the deceased persons said that almost 70% of one body had been burnt and they went there for an autopsy. The other body was brought two days before the visit.
Sekandar said that amid the freezer crisis, they could not keep the bodies for more than 48 hours.
“If we keep the bodies under the fan or AC, they start mutilating and spread bad odor," he added.
On the contrary, Maksud denied the debacle, terming their morgue “far better and modern” than many other facilities across Bangladesh.
“Anyone can have food sitting here [morgue] if they want,” he claimed.
What does the DMC principal say?
DMC Principal Professor Dr Md Titu Miah claimed that he had taken measures for repairing the ACs soon after joining in January.
“If we need more ACs, we have to wait until June for the proposed budget of the next fiscal,” he added.
Regarding the broken-down freezers, he said that he had no idea about it.
“No one from the morgue informed me about it officially.
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“I just came to know from you,” he told the Dhaka Tribune reporter, pledging that the freezers would be fixed soon.
The official said that he had visited the morgue recently and found the atmosphere to be very unhealthy.
He still insisted that the DMC morgue was far better than many other morgues of the country.
“The health minister recently asked me to undertake a project to plan and build a new morgue. We’re now working on the plan accordingly,” he said.
“Even though there are two more morgues in Dhaka, the DMC morgue remains under pressure. At least 10-15 bodies are brought here every day and seven to eight autopsies are done. But on some days, the number of bodies rises to 20-30,” he claimed.