We’ll constitute National Medical Team to screen pilgrims — Chair
Nigeria not a threat to any nation— Health Minister
Following reports by some online news platforms that Saudi Arabia authorities are threatening to stop Nigerian pilgrims from attending this year’s Hajj exercise as a result of outbreak of Lassa fever reported in some states, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, has debunked the claim saying no such decision had been taken nor was there any plan of such by the kingdom.According to the statement released by the commission and signed by the Head of Media, Hajia Fatima Mustapha:
“The attention of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria has been drawn to the publication on some social media platforms and some online platforms that the Saudi Arabian authorities are threatening to block Nigerian pilgrims from attending the 2018 Hajj.We read with dismay the story and we want to allay the fear of Nigerians especially the intending pilgrims that no such decision has been taken nor was there any plan of such.We therefore assure Nigerians and intending pilgrims of our commitment to the continuous improvement of services to the Nigerian pilgrims.Nigeria has one of the largest contingents in the annual religious exercise with about 95,000 pilgrims.
Minister of Health speaks
Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewale, has said Nigeria does not constitute a global threat to any nation due to isolated cases of Lassa fever recorded in some states in the country.Adewale stated this at the meeting of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) with Hajj stakeholders on Lassa fever, organised by his office in Abuja.The Minister said all Nigerian pilgrims must be thoroughly screened before they would be transported to Saudi Arabia for Umrah or Hajj, adding no Nigerian would be allowed to travel to Saudi with Lassa fever.
We ‘ll constitute National Medical Team, by NAHCON Boss, Barr Abdullah Muhammad
Speaking earlier, the Executive Chairman, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Abdullahi Muhammed said Saudi Authorities had mapped out strategies and precautionary steps that would ensure that no Nigerian pilgrim enters the country with anything that would cause transmission or infection of Lassa fever.
“ As you are all aware, of recent, there have been media reports with regards to Lassa fever in Nigeria which drew the attention of Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health and in their wisdom they mapped out some preventive measures to guard against its transmission in Saudi during hajj”, he said while assuring that NAHCON, as the regulatory body for hajj and umrah, would do whatever it takes to complement the efforts of Saudi authorities in ensuring that all travellers for hajj and Umrah are free of anything that has to do with Lassa fever.
“ Since this matter was brought to the attention of the commission, we quickly wrote to the SGF and drew government’s attention to the precautionary measures that the Saudi authorities will take. In the wisdom of the SGF, he decided that we should have this very important stakeholders meeting with all Commissioners for Health from the 36 states of the Federation and FCT.The essence of this gathering is for us to map out strategies that will convince the Saudi Ministry of Health and the international community that Nigerian pilgrims will not in anyway endanger the lives of other members of the community that are performing hajj or umrah,” Muhammad said.
He said NAHCON and all state Pilgrims Welfare Boards had agreed to work together in line with the guidelines that would be issued by the Federal Ministry of Health and other relevant agencies in screening pilgrims and their luggage thoroughly.This according to him, we would make sure that pilgrims luggage did not carry any insect or animal that could transmit or cause the infection of Lassa fever.The NAHCON boss urged Executive Secretaries and Chairmen of state pilgrims boards to rededicate themselves so that Nigeria could prove to the world that the country was not a carrier of Lassa fever.
He therefore said, NAHCON has resolved as a matter of priority to constitute a National Medical Team for 2018 hajj that would work with all the relevant agencies in the screening of pilgrims to ensure that they are medically fit to travel to Saudi Arabia.“ I want to assure our brothers in Saudi Arabia that we will not allow any of our pilgrims to endanger the lives of other nationals that will be coming for hajj or umrah. We understand the fears and we will work together to address the situation, “he said.