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Muslim pilgrims / AFP PHOTO / Karim SAHIB

Federal Ministry of Health has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Saudi Arabia on scientific research to mitigate crowd-induced illnesses during the hajj exercise.

The partnership, which is in collaboration of the Saudi-based Centre for Mass Gathering Medicine (CMGM), a World Health Organisation (WHO)-funded agency, will assuage the effect of harsh atmospheric condition, outbreak of heatstroke and epidemics during the religious gathering.

Representative of Federal Ministry of Health and commissioner in charge of health at NAHCON, Dr. Ibrahim Kana, revealed this yesterday in Medina.

Besides, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) said a 450-man team, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other technical support members would be on stand-by for emergencies during the exercise.

Kana said: “Many diseases can be spread during such conditions.

There may also be stampede, fire outbreak and flood, as it had happened at different times.

“Now, this partnership will encompass research, training and knowledge management in general.

The centre responsible is the Global Centre for Mass Gathering Medicines, which is one of the few WHO collaborating centres in the world.

Saudi Arabia was chosen for the centre base because of large population of Muslims from across the world that attend hajj.

“Nigeria was chosen by the Saudis for so many reasons: our large pilgrim population and larger black population during hajj.

Therefore, a good representation of tropical Africa, highly organised hajj system and the centralised medical services with real time electronic medical records (are needed).

“Through the MoU, I see opportunities for Nigerian physicians to embark on post-graduate training in this new field.

I also see opportunities for Nigerian pharmaceutical companies that can also partner with the Saudis, as both countries are emerging economies with diplomatic respect for each other.”

He emphasised that the Federal Government, through NAHCON, was embarking on research and analysis of the major causes of morbidity and mortality among pilgrims.

That, he said, was aside research findings on the use of pills to delay menstruation during hajj.

Ahead of Arafah Day, the NAHCON health commissioner advised pilgrims against roaming under the scorching sun, which could lead to dehydration and sunstroke.

He admonished sufferers of high blood pressure and diabetes to strictly abide by movement procedure and schedules, to prevent needless stress that could aggravate their health challenges.



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