St. Vincent MOH sensitizes owners and representatives of funeral homes on Ebola

By Caribbean Medical News Staff

The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment recently held a meeting with owners and representatives of funeral homes to sensitize them on the management and safe disposal of bodies in the event of an Ebola virus outbreak in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. In the interim the Ministry has said that there is no risk to St. Vincent at this time.

The Ministry has been advised that the handling of bodies of individuals who died from Ebola should be limited and that there should be no manipulation of the corpses, that is, no autopsies should be performed, no consideration should be given to having bodies embalmed, and no opportunity should be provided for viewing.

Dr. Franklyn James, Registrar in the Department of Primary Health Care and Member of the National Surveillance Committee, in speaking to the representatives of the funeral homes during the meeting, stated that, while recognizing the existence of deep-seated funeral rituals and burial practices in different cultural and religious contexts, ensuring safe disposal of dead bodies must be considered critical to limit the spread of the Ebola virus.

The Ministry’s other representatives present at the meeting said that personnel engaged in the management and disposal of dead bodies should use personal protective equipment at all times when handling the bodies, including gloves, aprons, overalls, fluid resistant gowns, surgical masks, eye protection gear and closed shoes, along with support provided by environmental health officers.

The Ministry is continuing to engage other stakeholders as part of its preparedness plan for the management of the Ebola virus. In this regard, members of the National Surveillance Committee also engaged officers of the Passports and Immigration Department and officials of the four schools of medicine in St. Vincent and the Grenadines as well.

The professionals also attended the meeting of Cabinet scheduled for that same day to make a presentation on the country’s preparedness plan for the management of the Ebola virus.

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