Health dept turns to tech to control morgues

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The Gauteng Department of Health will soon launch an online management system, which will help the province reduce the number of unclaimed and unidentified bodies in government mortuaries.

This follows the department’s concerns surrounding the number of unclaimed bodies in Gauteng, with it revealing yesterday that morgues in the province recorded nearly 900 unclaimed bodies last year.

“There was a slight decrease in the number of unclaimed and unidentified bodies in the 2020/2021 financial year, which can be attributed to COVID-19 lockdown,” it notes.

“In the 2020/2021 financial year, there were 898 unclaimed and unidentified bodies recorded, which was lower than 1 173 recorded in the 2019/2020 financial year, and 1 117 recorded in the 2018/2019 financial year.”

The department says it is turning to tech to help it control the problem.

Currently, the province’s forensic pathology services works with South African Police Services to trace the families of deceased people. This includes the use of fingerprints for identification purposes.

“The Gauteng Forensic Pathology Information Management System (FPSIMS) will provide various services that will include recording, tracking and reporting demographic data of the deceased persons, generate autopsy and toxicology reports, among others,” says the department in a statement.

It adds that the implementation of the FPSIMS system will reduce the number of unclaimed and unidentified bodies in government facilities.

The department says it plans to finalise – by the end of the year – the development of the online system.

The regulations in the National Health Act relating to the management of human remains stipulate a body must be identified within 30 days after death; thereafter, the body becomes government’s responsibility, as it handles the arrangement of a pauper’s burial.

Unclaimed bodies are buried in marked graves; however, should a family show up after the burial, the body can be exhumed.

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10 Aug
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