The professor Ana García (Valencia, 1963) is general director of Public Health of the Valencian Generalitat, the service that has been seen in the eye of the hurricane by the draft order that forbade the morbidly obese were incinerated. García assures that the exclusion was included in the document and has been eliminated because it has no sanitary justification and is discriminatory. The veto to the morbidly obese In any case, it may be of interest, he admits, to the companies that manage crematoria.
Question. Exclude people with morbid obesity was an error?
Answer. So is. The order is focused on improving the protection of public health in relation to crematoria. But unfortunately, in the section referring to materials that can not be incinerated because of their polluting potential, such as certain types of metals and plastics, the prohibition to include the cremation of people with morbid obesity, when it has no justification from the point of view of public health or for the objectives of the order.
P. Do you understand that there are people who have felt offended?
R. The order was in a very useful process, the public exhibition, which has served to alarm and we check that we had to eliminate that part of the text. It will be corrected, but I am very sorry for the effect that the error may have had. People with morbid obesity suffer from a very serious chronic disease, which entails many difficulties for them and their families. We regret that this could have worried or offended you, because obviously there was discrimination without any sense and all our apologies deserve.
P. If it is not a public health problem, for whom is it an inconvenience, for the companies managing the crematoriums?
R. Logically, there may be technical issues regarding the requirements of the facilities and this can be a problem for crematoria companies. But that is not an element of public health and does not prevent people with morbid obesity from having the same right as any other to be incinerated. A technical issue has been mixed for the facilities, so it may involve the presence in a crematorium of certain types of corpses, for reason of size, with the protection of public health, when they have no relation.
P. The controversy has eclipsed other elements of the rule, which advocates that represent an advance in public health.
R. This is another pity of what has happened. There is a relatively old regulation on mortuary health in the Valencian Community, a field that is changing rapidly. New materials are introduced, other pollutants appear such as persistent toxic compounds in the materials, and it is necessary to set preventions. That is why we establish the distance to which a crematorium must be placed in relation to homes, schools, health centers and other classes. That was not well defined and the standard will help us to improve health protection and avoid different interpretations.
P. The prohibition against the incineration of people treated with radioactive needles is striking.
R. In the previous normative framework, there are already references to the fact that any corpse that has radioactive materials has to follow procedures and controls that escape from the sanitary field and are the responsibility of the nuclear safety authority throughout Spain. Their incineration is not allowed and to be buried they must also comply with a series of nuclear safety requirements.