LINDA SOKO TEMBO Writes
FUNERAL service providers, have been advised by the Lusaka City Council (LCC) to ensure they brand and disinfect their vehicles to avoid spreading infectious diseases to the public.
The local authority is concerned with the number of funeral service providers whose vehicles were not branded and yet they provided the services of transporting corpses and used the same vehicles to move food stuffs, thereby posing a health hazard to the public.
LCC, Director of Public Health, Edgar Mulwanda told The Sun in an interview, the council was aware of some vehicles that carried dead bodies from an accident scene after being hired by some community members who could not afford hearses and those vehicles were a danger to the community because they were also used in other activities.
“We are working together with University Teaching Hospital (UTH) management so that we can control and educate the community on the issue of disinfecting a vehicle after carrying dead bodies from an accident, home or after burial.
“Funeral service providers (who deal in coffin selling and providing hearses to mourners) should ensure that the vehicles they use for transporting corpses are branded. We do not want a vehicle, which has potential infectious bodies to also transport food, for instance like cabbage.
“In the morning, you ferry dead bodies, in the afternoon you carry foodstuff without disinfecting it. LCC will ensure that the law takes its course,” he warned.
Mr Mulwanda also advised the funeral service providers to avoid offering services that they had not been licensed for such as embalming.
He said some funeral service providers were in the habit of adverting for services that they did not offer which was not right and by doing so, they were breaking the law.
Meanwhile, the coffin dealers and funeral services operators have welcomed the council recommendations to brand their vehicles and to regularly disinfect them saying they will help improve standards in the industry.
Group spokesperson, Mr. Justine Zulu, said, “We met with a team from public health and fire services. They educated us on how to operate, and we are happy with the guidelines.”
He said that his group is happy with the decision by the council to help them improve conditions and standards in the funeral industry.
“That has always been our desire, to ensure that we have some standards in the industry and that the members observe them,” said Mr. Zulu.
He disclosed that the group is also in the process of building toilets near the UTH mortuary, their main place of business, to help improve sanitation there.
“We also discussed the issue of sanitation with the council. So we have asked UTH for a piece of land to build toilets for the members and the mourners. At the moment we used hire toilets but it’s expensive,” said Mr. Zulu.