Ugandan nationals are increasingly turning to Kenyan mortuaries for embalming due to inadequate facilities in Busia, Namayingo, Bugiri, and Tororo districts. This cross-border phenomenon has been driven by the lack of well-equipped mortuaries, particularly evident in Masafu Hospital and Busia Health Centre IV.

Busia operates two mortuaries, each capable of accommodating 15 bodies simultaneously. However, according to Mr. Phabiano Nyiringango, a trader in Busia Town, the mortuaries in Masafu Hospital and Busia Health Centre IV are insufficient. He described the space as a small room where bodies are packed closely, lacking a cold room and often running out of formalin.

Residents, like Mr. Charles Itogot of Busuwu Village, Sikuda Sub-county, faced with the inadequacies of local mortuaries, have been opting to transport deceased loved ones to St Francis Funeral Home in neighbouring Kenya. Itogot attributed the superior facilities in Kenya to a cultural practice of preserving the departed for an extended period before burial.

Dr. Matthias Wabwire Panyako, the Busia District health officer, acknowledged the deficiencies in local mortuaries. He emphasized that Ministry of Health guidelines mandate mortuaries to have cold rooms, sufficient space, and qualified staff – criteria unmet by the current facilities.

Due to the absence of cold rooms, formalin becomes the primary method of preservation. However, Masafu Hospital and Busia Health Centre IV are reported to lack formalin, compelling grieving relatives to pay Shs70,000 for its procurement from Kenya.

At the Busia border, a steady flow of bodies crosses into Kenya weekly for preservation. Mr. Moses Ouma, an ambulance driver, transports over four bodies each week to Kenyan funeral homes, particularly St Francis Funeral Home-Tanaka and Alupe University mortuary. Ugandans reportedly pay twice the amount that Kenyans pay for the same service at Busia County Referral Hospital and Alupe University Hospital.

Ms. Roselyn Barasa, the director of St Francis Funeral Home, disclosed that the facility, opened last year, receives no less than 50 bodies from Uganda every month, highlighting the growing reliance on Kenyan mortuary services by Ugandans.

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