- Nigerian pilgrims in Saudi hit 40,000
Olawale Ajimotokan, in Mecca
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has acquired four new Mercedes Benz built ambulances equipped with oxygen concentrator and other resuscitating gadgets in preparation for the final Hajj rituals, which culminate in the Arafat Day on August 10.
Pilgrims from all over the world, including Nigeria will on Friday converge in Mina, in the outskirts of Mecca over the next four days to observe the most important aspects of the Hajj rites.
The Chairman, National Medical Committee of NAHCON, Dr Ibrahim Kana, revealed the acquisition in a statement on Sunday.
He said the purchase of the ambulances was part of the effort of the national medical team to provide efficient services to the pilgrims.
This is so as the number of Nigerians that have been airlifted to the holy land for the annual pilgrimage topped the 40,000 mark on Sunday.
The provision of the ambulances at the Mashaa’ir (religious sites) in the closing phase of the Hajj is what NAHCON has tagged as “Medical Caravan”.
The most tasking aspects of the Hajj exercise will require the pilgrims to stand on the plains of Arafat, passing the night at Muzdalifa and performing the devil stoning ritual at the pillars of Jamarat.
Kana stressed that the caravan would leave for Arafat with adequate drug provisions including drugs for blood sugar testing for diabetic patients.
He said NAHCON had distributed medical personnel to the states pilgrims’ boards, who would depart Mecca for Mina with the pilgrims during the Tradudiyya movement in the same bus.
He said a consignment of the supplies should arrive the medical store by Monday or Tuesday.
“It could be recalled that, this year, the National Medical team introduced first aid rooms in all the hotels accommodating Nigerian pilgrims in Madinah to attend to minor illnesses of the pilgrims.
“The recent additional innovation is the introduction of a Caravan System of health delivery to the pilgrims, this year, in the Mashaa’ir areas of Muna, Arafat and Muzdalifah,” Kana said.
He added that states and the relevant agencies are to provide space for makeshift clinics for male and female pilgrims in their tents, urging them to also provide environmental health workers to ensure cleanliness, sanitation and hygiene, inside and outside the tents in Muna.
The same caravan would travel back to Mina via Muzdalifa as prescribed.
Meanwhile, NAHCON has put the number of Nigerian pilgrims officially airlifted to Saudi Arabia at 40,993 in 84 flights in all.
The commission updated the toll following the departure of 545 pilgrims and nine officials from Minna, aboard Max Air flight NJ7164 for Madinah on Sunday morning.