You must wear PPEs before you bury dead bodies – Health Practitioner warns


A health practitioner has called for members of community burial teams to wear personal protective equipment before preparing dead bodies for burial.

Dr Abaah Joshua Akurugu, Resident in Family Medicine, Tamale Teaching Hospital, who made the call, cautioned such teams to be weary and take all the precautionary measures deemed necessary to contain the disease because they might not know cause of death, especially deceased who do not die from health facilities.

He further expressed the need for handlers or home caregivers, who took care of the sick as well as transport them to health centres, to also wear PPE to protect themselves from the COVID-19.

He said as stated by the government, the best thing to do was to seek the services of public health officers to handle the dead at home, adding, “however, since it is practically difficult for most communities to adhere to the burial protocol due to their peculiarities and cultural considerations, community members can acquire a set of PPE such as suite, face shields, nose masks, hand gloves, wellington boots, and disinfectants for burial team members as they go about their duties.”

He was contributing to a virtual platform discussion on the topic: “Fighting COVID-19 through Enhanced Cultural Practices: The Perspectives of Pure Trust Social Investors Foundation”, which was to contribute to preventing community spread of COVID-19, taking into consideration the cultural context of the people, especially in rural areas of the country.

The discussion, which drew about 25 participants from civil society organisations, academia, press and business from the United Kingdom, Denmark and Ghana, focused on handling the dead, managing the sick at home, and transporting sick people to health centres for care, which were all sources of spreading the disease at the community level.

The virtual platform discussion was organised by Pure Trust Social Investors Foundation (PTSIF), an integrated service and advocacy national non-profit organisation, from its base in Tamale, to mark its sixth anniversary celebration.

Ghana recorded her first two cases of COVID-19 on March 12 and by June 14, the number of confirmed cases rose to 11,400 with 51 deaths.

Dr Akurugu noted that even though culture was dynamic, and it took time for people to adjust to a new way of life, “In the case of COVID-19, people have no choice but to take steps to change their attitudes and behaviours, and modify their practices including the culture to stay safe.”

He proposed that community members set up a fund to help them fund the procurement of PPE for community burial teams and caregivers to undertake their activities instead of relying on donations from others and non-governmental organisations.

Mr Siapha Kamara, Chief Executive Officer of SEND West Africa shared an experience of what was done in Sierra Leone to tackle the outbreak of Ebola in that country, which included the creation of Ebola Response Teams in remote villages to intensify public education and inform health workers of suspected cases for transportation and treatment.

Mr Kamara said Ghana could learn from this strategy to help contain COVID-19 in the country.

Madam Rubaina Mahama, Nutritionist at the North Gonja District Health Directorate, emphasised the need for all citizens to consume local foods such as legumes, staples, animal and plant source protein, fruits and vegetables to boost their immune system as well as sleep under insecticide treated bed nets to prevent malaria.

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Other participants expressed the need to intensify public and community education to overcome misconceptions about the disease to save lives as well as active enforcement of the laws on restrictions to help contain its spread.

Dr Muntari Mahama, Board Chairman of PTSIF, who is also Dean of Degree Programmes at the Tamale Technical University, advised community members to take another look at their cultural practices bearing in mind the safety protocols on the COVID-19 to help curb its spread in the communities.

Mr Habib Haruna, Chief Executive Officer of PTSIF, spoke about the activities of the organisation over the period, saying, it had formed 20 Shea Enterprise Co-operatives comprising 1,367 members, distributed learning materials to 50 pupils, constructed two Shea Butter Processing Centres within its catchment amongst others to support the livelihoods of the people.

Mr Haruna called on development organisations home and abroad, to partner with PTSIF to continue to contribute to enhancing people’s capacities and transforming lives for the better.

The PTSIF was incorporated on June 10, 2010 with the mission to promote economic security and social inclusion of the disadvantaged in Ghana through cooperation.

Source: GNA