Today didn’t go quite as planned. This morning a nurse from the outreach team came to tell us about a patient in a neighbouring village. She had been preparing to bring the girl to the isolation centre, but when she went for a last check on her she had just died.
I collected up the team and all the equipment that we might need. Extra jerry cans of water, chlorine powder, lots of sets of protective clothing, bin bags, and a body bag.
When we got to the village we found the house and the dead girl’s uncle. He was quite calm and told us where her body was and what had happened.
Apparently both her parents had died recently from the disease and she had been staying with him for the past few days. Her body was lying behind the house on a low bed, covered with some plastic sheeting. Some family members went to dig a grave while we disinfected the house. We sprayed everything in the house with a chlorine solution and disinfected the latrine because a patient’s faeces are very contaminated.
Then I dressed in protective clothing along with one other member of the team and we went to put the body in the body bag. The problem was that she was very stiff and was lying on her side. I couldn’t get her straightened out at all. I was worried about this not being respectful but was assured that it didn’t matter. So we wrapped her up in the plastic and got her into the body bag.
The burial pit was just by the side of the road on the way out of the village, not in a cemetery. It hadn’t been dug deep enough so two of the team had to make it deeper. Then we shovelled the earth back in using our hands. By the time we finished it was dark. Next time I am going to take a shovel.