The government has allocated nearly $300,000 for the burial of unclaimed victims of Hurricane Dorian, a recent report by the Ministry of Health revealed.
The report, “Post-Dorian: health sector strategic response plan of action,” was completed last week.
The report categorized the burials as short, medium and long-term actions, noting that it will cost $275,000.
The money for the burials will come from the consolidated fund, according to the report.
“Cost assumes approximately 50 unclaimed victims at a burial cost of $5,500 each,” the report noted.
“A suggestion is that every three months a mass burial exercise can be conducted for the unclaimed.”
Dorian ravaged Abaco and Grand Bahama in early September.
The Category 5 storm impacted nearly 30,000 people and killed at least 70. Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands has said the number of people who died during Dorian is expected to be “staggering”.
Of the victims so far, 60 were found on Abaco, and 10 on Grand Bahama.
A “significant number” of storm victims are still being kept in refrigerated trailers in Abaco, Sands said yesterday.
So far, the government has released the bodies of 14 storm victims to their families, according to Sands.
As of October 18, there were 282 people missing as a result of Dorian.
It is unclear how many are still missing.
This has led some to question the accuracy of the official death toll released by authorities.
For this reason, according to the report, the ministry has allocated $20,000 to “sensitize the public to the steps involved in determining the official death count as well as the criteria for categorizing a victim as unclaimed”.
This initiative is expected to be funded by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the report noted.
Dorian is the strongest hurricane on record to hit The Bahamas.
Hundreds of people were injured as a result of the storm.
“In the immediate aftermath of Dorian, traumatic injuries (fractures, amputations, head injuries, etc.), puncture wounds, dialysis needs, infections, etc. were the focus,” the report noted.
According to the document, the ministry is focused on ensuring the availability of health services on affected islands.
It noted that access “to care for persons [who remain on and are] returning to affected islands for chronic illnesses, skin rashes, strain injuries, infections, and other health care needs is essential”.
“Population movement and displacement overcrowding (close and multiple contacts) as well as persons living in sub-standard compromised housing provides an ongoing risk,” the report said.
“Psychosocial challenges in the aftermath of a traumatic event such as Dorian must also be monitored and addressed in a comprehensive and sustained manner.
“These include, but are not limited to, the potential for increased substance abuse, increase in sexually transmitted infections, and [in] particular to children, the need for reintegration into a school environment and ensuring vaccination and other health needs are met for ongoing optimal growth.
“Water and sanitation, nutritional and safe environments in shelters as well as persons remaining or returning to affected islands is also a public health concern in order to reduce the risk of preventable food, water, and vector-borne illness in displaced and negatively impacted communities with potential spread.”