Olawale Ajimotokan in Mecca, Saudi Arabia
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has acquired four new Mercedes Benz ambulances equipped with oxygen concentrator and other resuscitating gadgets in preparation for the final Hajj rituals, which will take place on the Arafat Day on August 10.
Pilgrims from all over the world, including Nigeria, will next Friday converge on Mina in the outskirts of Mecca for 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 made available to journalists at the weekend.
He said the purchase of the ambulances was part of the efforts of the national medical team to provide efficient services to the pilgrims.
This is as the number of Nigerians that have been airlifted to the holy land for the annual pilgrimage reached the 40,000 mark at the weekend.
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’.
It was learnt that the most tasking aspects of the Hajj exercise would 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 pilgrim boards, who would depart Mecca for Mina with the pilgrims during the Tradudiyya movement on the same bus.
Kana said a consignment of the supplies would arrive at the medical store by today 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 in the Mashaa’ir areas of Muna, Arafat and Muzdalifah this year,” 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 to 40,993 in 84 flights in all.
The commission updated the toll following the departure of 545 pilgrims and nine officials from Minna, Niger State, aboard Max Air flight NJ7164 for Madinah yesterday morning.