Parliament: At The Dewan Rakyat
THERE has been a 13% to 25% increase in the number of unclaimed bodies in hospitals nationwide between 2013 and 2015, said the Health Ministry.
Last year, there were 757 unclaimed bodies compared with 566 in 2014 and 489 in 2013.
The management of unclaimed bodies, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam, was conducted by the forensic units or departments of the respective hospitals.
He said unclaimed bodies would be handed to the respective religious associations in accordance with the religion of the deceased.
Apart from that, some bodies that fulfil the criteria set by the ministry, are also handed to the medical faculties at local universities for educational or research purposes.
Dr Subramaniam said a corpse was deemed as an unclaimed body 14 days after it was registered at the mortuary and after various efforts to track the next of kin failed.
Unclaimed bodies are managed by hospitals with the help from the Majlis Agama Islam (Islamic Council or departments) and other religious associations in the respective states.
This, he said, was in accordance with the Health director-general’s Circular No 17/2008 Guidelines on Post-Mortem on Dead Bodies at Ministry of Health Hospitals.
“The cost to manage the unclaimed body is not borne by the Health Ministry’s hospitals as the last rites are conducted by the State Islamic authorities for Muslims or non-governmental organisations for non-Muslims,” he said in a written reply to Ahmad Lai Bujang (BN-Sibuti) who asked about the number of unclaimed bodies from 2013 to 2016 in hospitals.
Ahmad Lai asked about the costs incurred by government hospitals to manage these unclaimed bodies besides wanting to know how they were “disposed” off.
In a written reply to Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz (PAS-Pasir Mas), Subramaniam said the number of men suffering from mental disorder was almost double that of women in the country.
He said a National Morbidity study carried out last year revealed that a total of 42,178 people sought psychiatric treatment at government hospitals for some form of mental disorder.
“Of this, mental disorder affected a total of 27,855 men and 14,313 women,” he said.