The Senate has approved the Public Health Amendment Bill 2023, a significant step toward regulating the retention period for deceased individuals’ remains in authorized facilities.
This legislative progress amends the existing Public Health Act Cap 353.
Gaining momentum with lower house ministers’ approval a week ago, the bill received unanimous support from senators, deeming it “noncontentious” and “necessary.”
The unchallenged status facilitated a record-setting session for efficient deliberations.
A key provision limits the retention of unclaimed human corpses in authorized places to fourteen days.
If unclaimed beyond this period, the director must seek permission from the Chief Public Health Inspector for burial or cremation.
The Chief Inspector initiates burial 45 days after the initial 14-day period, with public notices for claims during this time.
However, Minority Leader Shawn Nicholas raised valid concerns. Firstly, she suggested using two daily newspapers for notices to reach a wider audience.
Secondly, Nicholas questioned the practicality of recovering burial expenses from the deceased’s estate.
The bill accommodates these concerns by stating that if there are no known assets, the government will bear the reasonable burial costs.
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