Compiled by Press Attaché, Saudi Arabia, M.B. Jalloh and Voice of Islam’s Chernor Barrie
The health condition of the 800 Sierra Leoneans currently in Mecca for this year’s Hajj is satisfactory, head of the medical team that accompanied the pilgrims said last night.
“All pilgrims are fine. No case of epidemic diseases has been reported so far, except some cases of upper respiratory tract infections like cough and influenza,” Dr. Momodu Sesay, Director General of the National HIV/Aids Control Programme said in the presence of his team in down town Mecca.
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 maintained. He was also grateful to the Saudi Health Ministry of Health 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, a Spokesman for the Ministry told reporters recently.
Health officials in Saudi Arabia also say they did all they can to avoid an outbreak of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) coronavirus during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage. The officials are using thermal cameras at all the entry points to identify health problems.
Before the Hajj, pilgrims were strongly advised to wear dust masks, cover nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing, wash hands frequently and observe good personal hygiene during the Hajj. Earlier, the Saudi Hajj Ministry also emphasized that all pilgrims from abroad should present official certificate proving they have been vaccinated against meningitis and seasonal flu. They also advised foreign pilgrims to be accompanied by their medical doctors – and Sierra Leone complied with that.
Other members of the Sierra Leone medical team include, Dr. Ayeshatu M. Mustapha, Senior Medical Officer at the Ola During Children’s Hospital (ODCH) in Freetown, Nurse Rugiatu Kanu, Acting Program Manager, National School and Health Program/Teenage Pregnancy Secretariat at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Nurse Mariama Mansaray attached to the National Malaria Control Programme, Ministry of Health and Sanitationand Nurse Mariama Timbo also attached to the Government Hospital, Lumley in the West End of Freetown.