Tropical Journal of Health Sciences

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Anatomical practices of preserving, handling and management of human remains: A proposition for an act in the laws of Nigeria

J.O. Owolabi, D.A. Adekomi, A.A. Okesina, P.A. Adeniyi, A.A. Tijani


The anatomical practices of handling, managing, preserving and disposing human remains should be adequately regulated. It is not uncommon to observe poor management of human remains especially with regards to preservation, handling, treatment and transportation. Deaths resulting from disasters as well as some unwholesome practices are major factors that affect the quality of practices. Yet, the management of human remains requires utmost attention for the purpose of health, ethics and environment. Outbreaks of diseases and the spread of such, for instance, the case of Ebola virus, in Liberia and Guinea are obvious pointers to the need to pay adequate attention to the management of human remains.  Though this was originally partly addressed by the Anatomy Act of 1933, currently found in the Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; changes and advancements in societal life and circumstances have however limited the practicability of some aspects of the old Anatomy Act, especially as it relates to the management of human remains for non-dissection educational purposes. To this end; a conscientious review of the old act relative to the current scenarios was carried out with the aim of proposing an effective system of taking care of human remains. The result of this review is that an act will be required to address the management of human remains as well the regulation of the anatomical practices of preserving, handling and management of human remains. Human remains as used in this context includes established lifeless or dead whole human body otherwise known as corpse or cadaver, or dead organs and tissues that require disposal.

Keywords: anatomical practices, human remains, mortuary and funeral homes, act       

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