Concord Times (Freetown)

Sierra Leone: Salone Pilgrims Complete Hajj in Sound Health

Head of the medical team that accompanied Sierra Leonean pilgrims to perform this year's hajj to Mecca has said that the pilgrims' health condition was satisfactory.

Dr. Momodu Sesay, Programme Manager of the National HIV/Aids Control Programme said at his temporal Mecca clinic on Umul Qura road Thursday night that: "The health condition of the 837 Sierra Leoneans who have completed their hajj rites in the holy land of Mecca is stable and satisfactory. All pilgrims are fine. No case of epidemic diseases has been reported so far, except for some cases of upper respiratory tract infections like cough and influenza."

Doctor Sesay was also quick to say that some of these communicable diseases were due to change of weather and environment: "But my medical team is doing its level best to help improve the health condition of the pilgrims."

He paid special tribute to the government of Sierra Leone for providing them with essential drugs for use in Saudi Arabia. "These drugs have helped us a lot," he stressed, adding that he was grateful to the Saudi Health Ministry for its support since their arrival.

Saudi authorities earlier took all precautions to prevent contagious diseases from spreading during the hajj, where over two million Muslims from all over the world flock for the annual pilgrimage - millions of people from different parts of the world living in a limited area for a number of days or weeks can easily spread infectious diseases and epidemics.

These people could carry the contagion to their countries when they travel home, raising grave concerns of global outbreaks. This is where the Saudi government has astutely stepped in with compulsory vaccinations for all pilgrims.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has declared this year's hajj season free of epidemic or contagious diseases. Addressing a news conference in Mina early this week, Minister of Health Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeah said no cases of contagious diseases have been detected so far.

"So, I announce the Health Commission's conclusion that this year's hajj season is free of any epidemic," the minister said adding that the results were achieved after a series of measures taken by the Ministry of Health over the past months. These measures included the application of the updated health requirements on all pilgrims, early epidemiological surveillance at all ports of entry, including land, sea and air, through its 16 health control centers.

The ministry also reinforced epidemiological surveillance teams at the hajj sites to take samples of patients and subject them to tests in local and international laboratories. This is in addition to developing and upgrading the therapeutic services at the holy sites of Makkah and Madinah.

Al-Rabeah said his government would continue to follow the health status of pilgrims until the last pilgrim returns to his/her home country.

In another development, an official of the Sierra Leone Hajj Mission has said that the pilgrims will commence departing the Jeddah Hajj Terminal of the King Abdul Aziz International Airport this weekend for the Lungi International Airport, but details were not given.

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