1. The Safe and Dignified Burials (SDB) protocols remain the same and will continue to be adhered to.
However the National Ebola Response Center (NERC) has updated the existing protocol to allow families the cemetery of choice for SDB as long as the deceased is buried within 24 hours and the necessary arrangements in the cemetery of choice are organised by the family. The SDB protocol remains critical to reduce the risk of EVD transmission in Sierra Leone.
The attached process flow provides guidance on the action to be taken but to emphasise:
• Address of deceased person and contact telephone number of family member must be provided to 117. 117 ask the family members where the deceased is to be buried. Family will be given a choice of 17 cemeteries in the WA as well as community burials in Western Area Rural.
• If the body was EVD+ from an EHU or ETC then the body will be buried at a Designated Cemetery. If this is not the case, and the family wishes to bury their loved one in a cemetery other than Waterloo then they are to make the necessary arrangements with the cemetery of their choice, including any payment. Waterloo Cemetery remains free of charges for burials.
• Burial Zone coordinator (BZC) receives alert and tasks the Burial Supervisor to collect corpse.
• BZC will confirm cemetery of the family’s choice and inform them of the time of burial. The BZC will also speak with the Burial Supervisors to confirm they are at the correct cemetery.
• Family to pay cemetery of choice Le25,000 only for burial on arrival at the cemetery.
• Grave to be dug to a minimum of 8 foot in depth (WHO recommendation).
2. There will be 17 cemeteries of choice in Freetown which has necessitated an increase in the number of burial teams and Swab Teams as well as the provision of burning pits and equipment. Burial Supervisors have been provided with mobile phones. The burial teams will be coordinated by the WAERC.
3. The NERC has agreed with Freetown’s funeral homes and Connaught Mortuary that they will stop receiving corpses. These organisations will integrate many of their employees into the new burials teams (trained weekcommencing10 August). The closure of the funeral homes and Connaught Mortuarywill be monitored.
4. NO payment of any form should be made for burial except to the cemetery supervisor (Le 25,000) who should issue a receipt. Collection and transport of a corpse is free of charge.
5. Exceptions to the SDB protocols – corpses of medical interest (e.g. murder) and those repatriated (outward/inward to Sierra Leone) will be held at Connaught Mortuary – decision to be made by burial team supervisor.
6. Corpses that need holding overnight will be taken to 34 Military Hospital until release for burial.
7. WHO recommends that SDB policy continues for a total of at least 132 days (approx 4 ½ months or EVD zero + 42 days + 90 days) from either the time of the last EVD death or discharge from and ETU/ETC. Swabbing of dead bodies will continue beyond the SDB policy.
8. The policy will be overseen by a team of supervisors that will monitor the SOP update and feedback to WAERC and NERC leadership.
WESTERN AREA SAFE AND DIGNIFIED BURIAL POLICY SOCIAL MOBILIZATION KEY MESSAGES
• Remind the community that safe burial policies remain in force, and that safe burials key in getting to zero by reducing the risk of Ebola transmission.
• Update the community on the key changes to the Safe and Dignified Burials Policy in Western Area.
To increase awareness in Western Area of update to the Safe and Dignified Burial policy and outline key changes that may affect the community.
? The Safe and Dignified Burials policy is still in effect.
• Despite recent easing of restrictions, the safe and dignified burial policy is still in effect, and will remain in effect until we reach zero new cases for at least 132 days.
• The Safe and Dignified Burial policy is a critical part of the Ebola response, and getting to zero. There are no exceptions.
• Practicing safe and dignified burials is a way to show respect for your loved ones while keeping yourself, your family, and your community safe from Ebola.
• Ebola does not change our respect and love for those who have died. We must stop practices that spread Ebola.
? The Safe and Dignified Burial Policy has been updated as follows:
• All burials will still be conducted by the burial teams in a safe and dignified manner within 24 hours.
• Families in Western Area will be able to indicate the cemetery of choice for their loved one’s burial within the Western Area only. This will cost Le25,000.
• Burials of Ebola-positive bodies from ETUs will take place only at a designated cemetery, Waterloo for WA.
• All funeral homes in Western Area will no longer store corpses, and will open only for the sale of coffins.
• Staff of Western Area funeral homes will be incorporated into the existing burial teams.
• Any suspicious burials should be reported to 117 or SLP.
? What you should do in the event of a death of a loved one:
• Call 117 to report all deaths. During this crisis, all deaths must be handled as if they could be Ebola.
• When you call 117, they will ask you where you would like your loved one to be buried. There are 17 cemeteries in Western Area that you can choose from.
• If you choose to bury your loved one in a cemetery other than Waterloo, you will make necessary arrangements with that cemetery, including the payment of Le25,000 only.
Waterloo Cemetery remains free of charge for burials.
• No other payment should be made for collection or transport of loved ones.
• We are making progress in this fight because we are keeping our people safe through safe and dignified burials.
• We all have a role in stopping the spread of Ebola and ensuring that our communities practice safe and dignified burials. Please spread the message.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.