Ban on movement of corpses over Ebola: How necessary?
The federal government recently announced that, as part of measures to check the spread of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease in the country, Nigerians should henceforth bury their dead relatives in the same locality of their death. The decision, according to the Minister of State for Health, Dr Khaliru Alhassan, was taken in the best interest of the citizens. The minister added that security agencies had been instructed not to allow people bring corpses into the country or even move corpses from one state to another, until the disease is contained in the country.
For this edition of VIEWPOINT, our reporter, Adebayo Oladejo sampled the opinions of Nigerians on the decision. Their responses are presented below.
It is unnecessary
While I commend the Nigerian government, and especially the Lagos State Government, for their swift response in addressing the spread of Ebola and protecting the citizens, I think outright ban on movement of corpses is unnecessary, provided there is a death certificate stating the cause of death. That aside, the federal government should have also devised means of preventing the virus from entering the country.
Pharm. Patience Sanni
Ifo, Ogun State
Implementation should be limited to affected areas
The decision is a good one, but as we all know, it will really affect our African beliefs concerning burying our dead in foreign lands. So I’m of the opinion that the rule should be more rigid on corpses coming into the country from Ebola affectedareas. But for other unaffected areas, when a death certificate accompanies a corpse, the corpse should be allowed to move.
As at today, Ebola has been restricted to only two states, Lagos and Port Harcourt, and even in those two states, it has been well managed.So there is no cause for fear. It is also interesting to note that all the cases so far recorded are one way or the other linked to Patrick Sawyer, who brought the disease to the country, which also shows that the challenge has been well managed. So I see no reason why such action of banning movement of corpses around the country should be taken. I would rather suggest that the government makes it compulsory for the relatives of deceased persons to obtain the death certificate stating the cause of the death and that solves the problem.
Sanni Reuben O
Considering the current situation, the move is a good one but it’s not the best alternative because the affluent and the powerful may not comply.Or do you think anyone will disturb a convoy conveying the remains of an ex-governor or an ex-president from one place to another? It may eventually not be a balanced policy because only the masses will be left to bear the brunt.
Aside from that, it would be a disadvantage to most of our people from the East, because there is this belief that it is sacrilegiousto bury certain people outside where they hail from.In fact, there is an adage that says, “The head of a king cannot be hanged outside his kingdom.”So the fact that the directive goes contrary to our cultural belief, as Africans, meansmany may not comply.
I think what the Ministry of Health should do in this regard is to ensure there is a proper way of verifying if a deceased person actually died of EVD or not.
It’s a good move by the FG
This is a welcome development and a good prevention strategy.We need to leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the ban is obeyed and respected.The man who brought the deadly virus into the country[Patrick Sawyer] contracted it from his dead sister.So the best way of preventing further spread is to bury a dead person where the person dies. In fact, to an extent, this would further reduce the rate at which people spend unnecessarily on burial ceremonies or movement of dead bodies; so the government is right on this.
However, this Ebola epidemic is another eye-opener to the age-long decadence in our health sector. It’s extremely sad to note that this significant sector of the Nigerian society has been so neglected to the extent that ordinary, but extremely important healthcare tools such as Personal Protective Equipment –gowns, googles, glovesetc–requiredfor this period are grossly inadequate and are just being ordered by most state governments at this time of medical emergency. One begins to wonder where all the budgetary allocations have ended up. So, as much as I am in support ofthe FG’s decision, I think there should be a general overhaul of our healthcare system, so that adequate staff and equipment can be provided.