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Safe and Dignified Burial: An Implementation Guide for Field Managers

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This guide is designed to assist organizations to establish a systematic operational approach to managing the bodies of persons who have died during specific infectious disease outbreaks, in which safe handling of dead persons and SDBs are required, as a public health intervention, to reduce secondary infection and to control the disease and contain its spread.

Specifically, the guide indicates the best operational and management practices for safe handling of deceased persons and conducting SDBs during infectious disease outbreaks. It is designed for use by those who are setting up or managing SDB operations. The guide focuses on Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and Marburg Virus Disease (MVD) whose infectiousness is such that it is necessary to handle the bodies of deceased persons with particular care before and during burial, in order to prevent disease transmission. EVD and MVD are most frequently transmitted during unprotected caring for the sick and during preparation of deceased persons for burial. Safe and Dignified Burials (SDBs) modify traditional funeral ceremonies and burial practices. Their introduction at the start of specific infectious disease outbreaks has been shown to reduce secondary infection and helps to prevent disease transmission.

The guide focuses on management of the bodies of persons who die during Ebola and Marburg outbreaks. Suitably adapted, its guidance is also relevant to the management of deaths from other infectious diseases where safe procedures for handling and burying the dead are necessary. Relevant diseases include Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever and Plague.

Generic guidelines for managing dead bodies after disasters can be found here: Management of Dead Bodies after Disasters: A Field Manual for First Responders