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Algeria: Dead bodies 'forgotten' at hospitals

Ain Ossara Hospital in Algeria [YouTube]
Ain Ossara Hospital in Algeria [YouTube]

The Ministry of Health, Population and Hospital Reform of Algeria has prepared its 2017 Annual Report. This has triggered a scandal around how the bodies of the dead are dealt with in hospitals. Of concern are the unknown bodies, labelled as "X", the random placement of dead bodies without registering the names of the deceased and others which have not been buried for 6 months. Additionally, concerned have been raised high price for over the public sale of coffins and washing of the dead for prices up to 7 thousand Algerian dinars per one deceased person.

Echorouk Online revealed that a special committee consisting of advisers and staff in the ministry have prepared the report based on unannounced visits to morgues in many national hospitals especially the largest ones. According to requirements hospitals were supposed to allocate 25 percent of their capacity for emergencies and disasters, while the percentage exceeded 100 percent.

According to the report, the over-crowdedness has led to the random placing of the bodies without registering the personal names of the deceased, which requires unveiling dozens of dead bodies to reach the bodies in question. If the right body is found, transferring the dead body can occur without using basic safety measures such as gloves, oxygen puffs, and other means which are supposed to be provided in such cases.

Read: Algeria medics condemn 'witch hunt' by authorities against them

According to Professor Rashid Belhadj of the mortuary department at Mustafa Pasha University Hospital, unidentified bodies remain labelled as "X". Most of them are victims of road accidents, fires and natural disasters. Apparently, every mortuary department in the hospitals surveyed has between 10 and 14 unidentified dead people who no one has ever asked to bury.

In addition, investigations have shown that there are organised networks within mortuary departments that consist of workers who publicly and secretly sell coffins high about market prices. In so doing they take advantage of citizens' need to accelerate procedures of washing and covering the deceased people. This is made work by the fact that coffins are available free of charge at hospitals.

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