By Foday Moriba Conteh
Sinneh Kamara, the Manager of Mortuary Services in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS), who is also the Head of the National Burial Team, has disclosed to this medium that the tasks they are dealing with is very copious and tasking.
Sinneh furthered that they do collect abandoned dead destitute on the streets adding that such corpses would be preserved at the mortuary with the hope that they would be identified. He, however, lamented that in almost all cases, no one would come forward to identify them and it is the mortuary that would take the responsibility of giving them dignified burial.
He also maintained that since Islam and Christianity are the two major religions in the country, the burial team will always offer both Muslim and Christian prayers before burying unidentified corpses .
Elaborating on his activities during the Ebola outbreak in 2014, the mudslide and flash flood in 2017, Sinneh Kamara disclosed that whilst experts were afraid of going close to corpses, he braved all odds and together with his group of volunteers, they offered selfless services in burying infected corpses.
He furthered that during the Ebola outbreak, medical experts from within and without claimed that the epidemic was highly dangerous when the patients die. Amidst news of deaths of healthcare workers, including renowned medical doctors, the burial team was busy collecting highly contagious corpses and burying them in droves day in, day out. The situation, he said, became very frightening when medical staff, who were supposed to be on top of situation, feared for their lives. Amidst this ugly situation, the burial team was actively involved in the fight against the deadly Ebola, traversing the length and breadth of the country in dangerous terrains to collect and bury the dead.
This job, Sinneh Kamara maintained, is not a comfortable one or the kind of job many Sierra Leoneans will gladly take, especially during such outbreaks. He disclosed that 65% of the volunteers of the burial team are being catered for by himself.
Using his training and knowledge about virus which he acquired from his immediate superior, the Consultant Pathologist, Dr. Simeon Owizz Koroma, he was able to control and direct the burial team to handle infected corpses and could proudly say that during the outbreak, no member of his burial team was infected or died.
When the mudslide occurred, Sinneh Kamara said they were the frontline workers and the very first responders to the disaster. Again, his team showed gallantry and bravery as they were out in the rain amidst flooded streams and communities collecting corpses, including parts of charred bodies. The number of dead bodies overwhelmed the capacity of the Central Mortuary at the Connaught Teaching Hospital in Freetown and urgent decision was made to preserve and bury them so as to avert another bigger catastrophe that their decomposed bodies would cause to the country.
Speaking about the current plan of the Minister of Health and Sanitation to train all mortuary staff across the country, Sinneh Kamara expressed appreciation to the Minister for taking such a bold move. This, he said, will motivate his team to continue to give their best and also contribute positively to the development of their lives, as they would now be certified as professionals. The Manager averred that capacitating mortuary staff will ensure that all Government mortuaries nationwide are fully manned by professional staff.
Sinneh Kamara lauded President Bio for his drive towards providing education for his compatriots, noting that education is key to the development of any nation. He also reechoed the words of the Health Minister that adequate training of staff resulted in the ability to handle the Coronavirus in the country.
The Manager further expressed determination to continue his job to ensure that corpses do not decompose on the streets, adding that he will do all in his power to further offer his experience and training to other staff, stressing that his job is apolitical and that he is only serving his nation and humanity.
Sinneh Kamara dismissed as immature, those who are maligning him on social media. He said he is more committed to his job than to be distracted by the negative things people say about him. Sierra Leone, the Manager stressed, deserves a better health system and with the support of the Government, they will work towards strengthening the country’s health sector.
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