Challenges in Sourcing Bodies for Anatomy Education and Research in Ethiopia: Pre and Post COVID-19 Scenarios.

Publication date: Feb 27, 2024

The relevance of anatomical dissection in instructing anatomy to medical, dental, and other health science students is indisputable. Ethiopian anatomists encountered challenges in obtaining human bodies for anatomy education and research, both prior to and following the COVID-19 outbreak. The challenges intensified during the pandemic, significantly affecting anatomy education in Ethiopia. This study seeks to investigate the sources of bodies for anatomy, spanning the periods before and after COVID-19, with a particular focus on identifying the primary challenges associated with sourcing of bodies in Ethiopia. Fifty (50) anatomists completed a survey distributed to ten (10) randomly chosen medical institutions in Ethiopia. The survey gathered information on the body profile (number of bodies, age, sex, sources, and methods of body disposal), and the challenges faced during the sourcing of bodies in the years 2018 and 2023. A total of sixty-three (63) bodies were used by the sampled medical institutions between 2018 and 2023 academic years. All (100%) of the bodies used were unclaimed human bodies. Most (66. 7%) of these bodies were males. The majority (65. 5%) of these bodies were sourced from Tikur Anbessa hospital in Addis Ababa. None (0%) of the sampled medical institutions had body donation programs. Disposal of human tissues encompassed various methods, including the retention of skeletons, prosection of vital organs, and burial of remaining tissues. Economic constraints and the absence of a legal framework document were the main challenges in acquiring bodies in the pre-pandemic period. The COVID-19 pandemic prevention policies and the civil war further exacerbated the challenges in sourcing of bodies for anatomy dissections during the post-pandemic period. The reliance on unclaimed human bodies for anatomy education and research in Ethiopian medical institutions mirrors a common practice across many African countries. The authors suggest the development of a legislative framework or operational guidelines, coupled with empowering the medical institutions to outsource their own funding that will ultimately lead to an increased number of bodies available for anatomical dissection. Over time, implementation and promotion of body donation programs may also resolve body shortages for anatomy education in Ethiopia.

Concepts Keywords
African Anatomy Education
Anatomists Civil War
Dental COVID-19 Pandemic
War Ethiopia
Human Bodies
Sourcing Challenges


Type Source Name
disease MESH COVID-19
drug DRUGBANK Pentaerythritol tetranitrate
disease VO document
disease VO time

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