A man has been arrested in Nigeria after he was found carrying bags containing more than 70 babies’ bodies. His job was to take corpses to a cemetery for the Lagos University Teaching Hospital and was allegedly trying to dump the bodies because he could not afford burial fees. Police enquiries have also led to the arrests of some of the teaching hospital’s Department of Anatomy staff.The worker was not going to use the bodies in any rituals, Lagos state police spokesperson Frank Mba said."We are sure that the suspect is neither a ritualist nor a murderer nor a trafficker. Other contending issues like corruption and abuse of office will be investigated," Mr Mba added.
Many families in Lagos are often too upset to deal with the dead babies and also can’t afford the morgue fees, so instead they abandon them outside hospitals. The hospitals have to hire people especially to bury the bodies. The hospital has called the arrest as an embarrassment to the organisation and a spokesman said it was co-operating with police investigations.
People in Lagos are shocked, said a BBC correspondent there. Many find it hard to believe that a hospital with a status such as Lagos University Teaching Hospital would let a worker handle that many corpses unsupervised.
Every year a million Nigerian children die before they reach five years old. That means that out of the more than nine million children who die every year, one million of those are Nigerian. The figure ranks Nigeria only second to India in under-five death rates.
As the world works towards trying to hit the Millennium Development goals, which include cutting child death rates, Nigeria must take centre stage, said The |United Nations Children’s Fund’s Suomi Sakai. “Nigeria must witness a reduction in the number of children dying for us to achieve the MDGs. Diseases such as malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea, measles, alongside other neonatal problems lead to death among children under-five. The good thing is that all of these diseases can be controlled,” she told AllAfrica news service. “Poor level of nutrition means that children do not grow at the rate they should. This leads to several problems, the first being a low level of immunity,” she said. “Children who are malnourished are more likely to get ill. And when they get ill they may die.”