via Parly concerned with funeral parlour waste | The Zimbabwean 23 June 2014 by Nelson Sibanda
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment, Water, Tourism and Hospitality Industry will soon inspect facilities at funeral parlours to ensure compliance of the companies with regulations governing the disposal of waste discharged from mortuaries.
Anastancia Ndhlovu, the thematic committee chairperson, said: “Parliament takes issues to do with environment sustainability seriously, since some chemicals used by funeral parlours to take care of dead bodies would cause cancer among other diseases.”
Ndhlovu was addressing a funeral services companies’ oral evidence session to Parliament in Harare today.
She called on stakeholders in the industry to desist from blaming each regarding proper disposal of the waste.
Local authorities and the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) regulate waste disposal.
Giving evidence to the committee, Chomi Makina, the Zimbabwe Funeral Services Association (ZFSA) president, said there were conflicting regulations governing disposal of the waste.
“We are confused with the conflicting regulations in this regard. EMA says the waste should be disposed in septic tanks while local authorities insist that the sewer system is best,” said Makina.
Makina noted that since sewer would be recycled there was need for local authorities to ensure that it is well purified before recycling.
The septic system, Makina said, had chances of contaminating underground water and there was need for research into possible side effects.
The president of the 30-member association urged the nation not to panic since funeral parlours would not use embalming fluids to bath dead bodies.
Embalming fluids, according to Makina, are only injected into dead bodies to slow down their decomposition rate while bodies with infectious diseases would not be washed.
All funeral service companies would be required to have incinerators to dispose gloves, cotton, syringes and other items used in the mortuary.
Oral evidence giving followed recent media reports that funeral parlours disposed water and other items used in the mortuary in a reckless manner, putting public health and the environment in danger.
Parliamentarians noted that the situation was worsened by the non-availability of incinerators at some hospitals entrusted by private funeral parlours to dispose the waste.
There were fears from the committee that the embalming fluid injected into dead bodies might affect underground water and rivers, should it leave the buried and decomposed bodies.
ZFSA urged government and other players to conduct researches in this regard.
Following the indigenisation thrust adopted by government, funeral parlours mushroomed around the country, with some operating without being affiliated to regulatory bodies like ZFSA.