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Liberia Tries to Ease Ebola Burial Logjam

  • James Butty

FILE - Health workers carry the body of an Ebola virus victim in Kenema, Sierra Leone.

FILE - Health workers carry the body of an Ebola virus victim in Kenema, Sierra Leone.

Liberian officials say they are working hard to correct problems resulting in a backlog of the collection and burial of Ebola-related bodies.

Some local media reports say an overwhelmed healthcare system has led to bodies being dumped in some communities and left unburied for days.

One report said as many as 37 bodies were found Sunday in one of the boroughs of the capital, Monrovia. The situation has reportedly led to protests in some communities.

Liberia’s Information Minister, Lewis Brown, said President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has ordered cremation of Ebola-related bodies to ease the logjam.

“We’re pleased that people are beginning to follow the directives of the government not to bury their own. What we’re getting is resistance, even from the communities in which they resided. And, therefore, it has caused a backlog and slow pace at which retrieval teams have been in action,” he said.

Part of the reason for the resistance, according one account, is that residents fear the bodies could contaminate the local drinking water.

Brown said Sirleaf has ordered the cremation of Ebola-infected bodies to relieve the burial bottleneck. He said that although cremation is foreign to Liberian culture, it is necessary as the government tries to contain the deadly virus.

He also said the government has established a community outreach taskforce to inform communities about the Ebola disease and how they can protect themselves.

Brown also said the government has begun to address the logjam on Ebola hotlines.

“They had hotlines from at least two of the major GSM service providers. On Sunday, we entered into additional arrangement to increase each number to be able to accommodate an additional 30 lines,” Brown said.

Brown said his government continues to appeal for help from the international community because it fears the situation could get worse before it gets better.

The World Bank announced Monday it is providing $200 million to help fight the Ebola outbreak. The WHO last week announced a $100 million emergency plan in conjunction with the three affected countries, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

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