In September 2014 the Centers for Disease Control along with Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health studied traditional burials in order to create a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for safe and dignified burials for those who die from Ebola. As of October 2014, a SOP for safe, dignified medical burials was approved and released by the Sierra Leone National Emergency Operations Center. This is a far cry from the insistence upon cremation by the Liberian government in the summer of last year.
As of January 2015, 2500 people have died from Ebola in Sierra Leone. Today when someone dies from Ebola, families have a greater chance of their loved one being buried with dignity without having to touch the deceased who are highly infectious.
Below are photos of an IFRC (International Federation of Red Cross) team removing a body of a young man on December 24, 2014 who was suspected of having Ebola. His family held a small ceremony in the young man’s memory. The body was then driven to the cemetery where it was buried based on the standard operating procedure created in October 2014.
As part of the Western Aera Surge Operation in Sierra Leone, the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society is undertaking safe and dignified burials ensuring that those who have died from the disease are treated with respect, while also ensuring the safety of communities. This is critical work, often performed by volunteers, and undertaken at the most dangerous time. Volunteers must wear full personal protective equipment and work in teams of seven.