Guinea: Red Cross, MSF manage safe Ebola burials

Saturday, January 17, 2015
[PHOTO: UNifeed]
Conakry, Guinea: Red Cross is lending its expertise to the Ebola mission by conducting safe and dignified burials, one of the pillars in the fight against the deadly disease.

Medecins Sans Frontiers also plays its part, running the operation of the Ebola Treatment Centre at Donka Hospital in Guinea's capital, Conakry.

As Red Cross safe burials team leader Baldé Amadou Saldjio explains, it's all about division of labour.

"There are two organizations involved in the transfer of the body, the Red Cross and Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF). The role of the MSF is to take the body from the centre o the door, they bring it to the threshold. We then take the body and put it on an ambulance and proceed to conduct a safe burial in a public cemetery," says Saldjio.

Donning full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) the Red Cross team meets MSF workers at the threshold. The body inside a special body bag is then put on an ambulance to be driven to Cameroon Public Cemetery.

One of the major hurdles in the fight against the disease has been unsafe religious practices during the funeral preparations. Convincing people to change these practices is not an easy task.

"People think that these bags are designed to bypass religion, because to tell the truth these bags are unknown to the religion. But these bags are used just to protect, not just us, the workers, but also the families. Because we put the body in the bags so that the family can bury it without risk. That is the job of the Red Cross in the Ebola mission," adds Saldjio.

After properly disinfecting the PPEs and the body bag the body is driven away. If the family so desires they can conduct a ceremony before it is placed in the grave.

According to the WHO, Guinea reported its lowest weekly total of new confirmed Ebola virus disease (EVD) cases since the week ending 17 August 2014. -UNifeed
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