Photo of elderly in nursing home from Straits Times

Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) admitted that from 2011 to 2015, it has used about 15 unclaimed dead bodies without consent each year to be used for medical education and research.

Speaking to the media, a MOH spokesperson said:

“In Singapore, controls are in place. When a body has not been claimed after 24 hours, MOH’s director of medical services may authorise the use of the body or any body part for purposes such as dental or medical education and research. But the police must confirm that the next of kin or proper claimant is untraceable and approval must be sought from the State Coroner.”

Every year, at least 100 bodies are unclaimed, and most of them are elderly in nursing homes and hospitals.

Especially in nursing homes, many elderly are abandoned by their family members because they are unable to afford the exorbitant nursing charges.

Local funeral parlour, Ang Chin Moh Funeral Directors, which arranges funeral for 70 to 100 unclaimed bodies each year, said:

“Such cases include those who were abandoned by family members after being checked into a nursing home. Others were estranged or had no next-of-kin details provided to the home. Some families do a few visits initially and stop visiting after they are unable to pay for charges due to financial difficulties, mental stress and other reasons.”