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Deceased deserve final ambulance ride

NNASARETHA KGAMANYANE
Ambulance FILE PIC
The Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Alfred Madigele says that ambulances are allowed to transport dead bodies to the hospital so that the doctor can certify that the particular individual is deceased.

Madigele said this after Mochudi East MP Bright Molebatsi expressed great concern over ambulance drivers who refuse to transport dead people to the clinic so that they could be certified dead.  He said in most cases when a person dies at home, when ambulances are called to carry the body the hospital; health personnel refuse claiming that they do not carry dead bodies.

“Why is it important that a deceased person be certified dead by medical doctors only? This situation inconveniences the deceased’s family more especially the underprivileged members of the community who cannot afford to pay for transport to take their loved ones to the hospital for them to be certified dead. This inconvenience is attributed by the fact that mortuaries and ambulance services cannot be availed until one is certified dead by a medical doctor,” he said. 

Answering this, Madigele said that it was important that a deceased person should be certified dead by a doctor. He said that was because a dead person was under the scope of practice of medical doctors as opposed to any other professionals.  He added that that was entrenched in the training health professionals hence no other professional could carry that function. 

Furthermore, the minister explained that according to the Births and Deaths Act, CAP 30:01, Section 21, it was mandatory for the issuance of cause of death to be done by a medical practitioner saying any other deviation would be contrary to the law. 

“I am not aware if

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this requirement inconveniences the deceased family.  My ministry provides services that are within portfolio. In the role of death certification, the doctor’s duty would be to provide the relevant examination of the body and certification promptly. It must also be emphasised that the legal and professional requirements have to be fulfilled to ensure that errors do not occur,” he said.

He also stated that he was willing to engage further to understand and deal with issues relating to certifying deceased bodies and facilitate relatives without delay. Madigele emphasised that the current requirement was prevalent in many countries including neighbouring countries. 

For his part, the MP for Gabane/Mmankgodi Pius Mokgware said there was a confirmation that ambulances do not carry dead people. He said he had witnessed an incident where an ambulance was called to transport a terminally ill patient, but unfortunately that person died before it arrived. He said upon its arrival, the health officials and driver refused to transport the deceased with claims that an ambulance does not transport dead people leaving the family stranded with the deceased. 

MP for Jwaneng/Mabutsane Shawn Ntlhaile asked the minister if he didn’t see it important for his employees to assist bereaved families by transporting the deceased during times of hardship. He was told that the ministry’s mandate was to facilitate for relatives without delay. However, Madigele also pointed out that they had a shortage of ambulances, which attributed to his ministry’s failure to transport dead bodies.



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