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By Alain Tossounon
COTONOU, Benin – Techniques for preventing further spread of COVID-19 while providing dignified burial for people who have succumbed to the disease was the subject of a four-day workshop convened in Benin’s northern city of Parakou in late June.
The training was provided for hygiene staff working in the Benin departments of Borgou, Collines, l’Atacora and Donga, and was funded by PAPHyR, the Programme to Improve Access to Good Hygiene and Sanitation Practices in Benin’s rural areas.
“The bodies of the deceased from COVID-19 must be handled with great care so as not to cause the spread of the virus,” said Martin Ahouandjinou, coordinator of basic hygiene and sanitation in the Collines department, and a trainer at the workshop.
The training was held between 23 and 26 June at the Princesse Hotel in Parakou. During the four-day session, participants updated their knowledge of the coronavirus pandemic, infection prevention and control, and preparation of chlorine disinfection solutions for environmental decontamination. In addition to emphasizing the necessity of breaking the chain of contamination, trainers insisted on the importance of providing dignified burial, even in the context of a global pandemic.
“Even if burial is not simple, dignity is important for the family of the deceased,” said Mr Ahouandjinou.
The training was punctuated with practical exercises that placed participants in a real-life situation involving the mobilization of all the appropriate equipment and was greatly appreciated by the hygiene officers.
“The training enabled us to understand and master the role of hygiene agents in the management of the pandemic,” says Aubin Yegbe, a basic sanitation hygiene technician at the Bassila zone hospital in the Donga Department.
“We are now better equipped to face the situation. We understood, for example, that the consent of the family is important even in the context of the pandemic,” said Gaël Bleco, hygiene manager of the Savalou-Bantè health zone.
Olga Agbohoui Houinato, the Director-General of the National Agency for Primary Health Care (ANSSP), was also at the workshop. In charge of basic hygiene and sanitation within the Ministry of Health, she underlined the importance of this workshop for hygiene personnel in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
For PAPHyR Zone Coordinator, Jérôme Orounla, the training was essential in the extraordinary circumstances in which Benin finds itself trying to avoid spreading the virus in the handling of the bodies of people who have died of COVID-19.
PAPHyR has been providing protective equipment and materials in Benin and supported the training of agents in the sanitation and hygiene sub-sector on emergency situations related to COVID-19 and the promotion of hygiene, in particular the practice of handwashing with soap and water.