Hajj: NAHCON inaugurates, screens medical team

…As Saudi releases guidelines for pilgrimage

By Benjami Arida://

Chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, Alhaji Zhikrullah By Hassan, has inaugurated 15-man National Medical Team, NMT for this year’s holy pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

Leader of the team, saddled with the responsibility of pre-selection of qualified medical personnel for the 2022 Hajj operations, is Dr. Usman Galadima of the Federal Ministry of Health while Sheikh Suleiman Momoh, NAHCON’s Commissioner Planning, Research, Statistics, and Library Studies, PRSLS, is the chairman and Pharmacist Zainab Ujudud Sheriff as the team’s Coordinator. 

The inauguration, according to a statement by the NAHCON’s Assistant Director, Public Affairs, Hajiya Fatima Sanda Usara, was followed by the screening and orientation of eligible applicants for the National Medical Team.

Speaking at the screening exercise held during the week Hajj House in Abuja, chairman of the commission congratulated the shortlisted candidates and tasked those that will be successful to distinguish themselves in the discharge of their responsibilities.

Earlier, Sheikh Momoh, assured the prospective NMT members of the NAHCON’s commitment to the success of the team and therefore, enjoined them to make the commission and Nigeria proud as one of the best medical teams in this Hajj season.

Also speaking, Pharmacist Shariff congratulated the members for being among the privileged few that would be selected for the Hajj exercise, urging them to deliver quality service to the pilgrims whom they will be engaged to serve. 

She called for team-work among all members, warning that the commission would not compromise on discipline, adding that they should be governed by their medical professional oath.

Meanwhile, as part of COVID-19 preventive measures and health protocols for the Hajj period, the Saudi Ministry of Health, through its Nigerian Embassy in Abuja released health requirements and guidelines for the 2022 Hajj. 

In the guidelines, the Health Ministry instructed the compulsory use of facemasks whether indoors or outdoors in Saudi Arabia during the Hajj period.

It also mandates foreign pilgrims to pay for Health Insurance that covers cost of COVID-19 treatment while in the Kingdom.

Apart from exempting persons over 65 years from performing the Hajj, high risk pilgrims, categorized as those with severe ailments such as active cancer or organ impairment, will also be restricted from participating in the exercise. 

Equally, the guideline mandates completion of basic immunization programs before arrival into the Kingdom. 

These immunizations are COVID-19, yellow fever and meningococcal meningitis vaccination received not less than 10 days to arrival in the Kingdom while its certificate should indicate date the immunization was dispensed. 

Furthermore, the ministry requests evidence of poliomyelitis vaccine shot administered not less than four weeks to arrival in Saudi Arabia and not over 12 months ago. 

Notwithstanding the polio vaccination evidence, travellers from countries with known cases of wild polio would be administered with one dose of bOPV at the entry point (the droplets Nigerians usually receive upon arrival in Saudi Arabia), the guideline states.

In addition to presentation of a COVID-19 negative test result done 72 hours before arrival into the Kingdom, the medical team is required to provide isolation centers in Nigeria’s local clinics

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