(Published NOV - 19th)
The Head of the Federal Government medical team to the 2009 Hajj, Dr Ibrahim Kana, has confirmed that 11 Nigerian pilgrims have died in Saudi Arabia.
Kana told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Mecca yesterday that two of the deceased were knocked down by vehicles in Mecca and Medina, while two died of diarrhea and vomiting, one of epilepsy, another of pneumonia and the rest of natural causes.
He said Nasarawa, Sokoto, Kebbi and Bauchi states lost two pilgrims each, while Zamfara, Plateau and Niger states lost one each.
He said the record was an improvement compared to 2008 when 45 Nigerians died before Arafat.
Kana called on the pilgrims to improve on their personal hygiene, rest properly and take plenty of water and fruits to avoid exhaustion from the heat.
He said the federal medical team was working with the state medical teams to ensure the good health of pilgrims.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP at the Nigerian Medical Mission House in Mecca, Kana said Nigeria has recorded tremendous success from the airlift to logistics. "We have about five clinics this year - four in Mecca and one in Madina that gave us the privilege to attend to large number of our patients.
"We tried hard to prevent diseases, you know, once there is prevention, you are able to reduce the number of patients and mortality. We got this breakthrough by creating much awareness. Pamphlets were produced in virtually all major Nigerian languages to address health-related matters and personal hygiene.”
He added: "Generally speaking, health is good this year, compared to last year when we had about 42 mortality rates.
“Most of those who died last year were old persons, but this year due to the strict nature of visa issuance by the Saudi government and our vigorous screenings of the aged and healthy people, we have less problems. Almost all those who are on this year's contingent are healthy people. If this continues, Nigeria will record a lot of successes on Hajj affairs."
On swine flu, the doctor said, "Right from Nigeria, we screened our pilgrims, took their temperature and so on, but about eight of the Nigerian pilgrims were quarantined by the Saudi authorities here in Jeddah, alleging that they have H1N1 (swine flu) and were taken to the hospital for examination.
"At the hospital, Polymirase chain test, which is an intelligence test, was conducted on them. I am proud to say that the result showed that none of them and found positive of H1N1. We have over 20,000 tamiflu to cure the swine flu for our pilgrims."
Kana also stated that this year the Saudi authorities arranged that there would be no clinics and ambulances in Mina. "The Saudi authorities will provide everything, clinics, hospitals and ambulances. The ambulances will serve as post-clinics just to avoid commotion.
"If all states of Nigeria will go with their ambulances and every nation will take its ambulances there, how many will be on board? But they are capable of providing everything in case of any emergency."
The federal medical team has 60 doctors, 120 nurses, 20 pharmacists and 16 environmental health officers, who offer free medical services to pilgrims in their clinics in Mecca, Medina and Jeddah.
Ninety-five thousand Nigerians are performing the pilgrimage.
The Pilgrims That Died In Saudi Arabia
1. Usman Hassan Dandaura - Kebbi; died 28-10-09 in Madina of Septicaemia.
2. Gidigo Maikurata - Nasarawa; died 1/11/09 in Madina of cardiopulmonary failure.
3. Ibrahim Abdulkarim Imam - Sokoto; died 2/11/09 in Madina of cardiopulmonary failure.
4. Hauwa Mohammed Abdullahi - Nasarawa; died 4/11/09 in Madina of Hepatic Encephalopathy.
5. Balarabe Adamu - Sokoto; died 4/11/09 in Madina of gastroenteritis.
6. Dadda'u Almalik - Zamfara; died 5/11/09 in Madina, having been knocked down by a vehicle on the road.
7. Ibrahim Umar - Bauchi; died 10/11/09 in Madina of Aspiration pneumonia secondary to epileptic;
8. Babawo M. Sarki - Plateua; died 10/11/09 in Makka, knocked down by a car.
9. Maryam Alhassan Jumu - Kebbi; died 13/11/09 in Madina of cardiac arrest.
10. Musa Lawan - Bauchi; died on 14/11/09 in Makkah of anaemic cardiac failure.
11. Hauwa Ndanusa - Niger; died 15/11/09 in Makkah of gastroenteritis.