According to reports, many Nigerian pilgrims who thronged the Daru Fahad hotel, meant for officials and Ulamas of National Hajj Commission seeking medical attention, were disappointed, as they were told to locate Saudi Arabian hospitals and clinics nearer to them for treatments.

The Saudi Arabian authorities have not granted approval to any Hajj-participating country, including Nigeria, to start running clinics in Makkah.

Previously, the Saudi authorities would provide permission for the Missions’ clinics to operate after meeting the necessary requirements, prior to the arrival of pilgrims.

However, this year’s new policy direction altered, requiring approval to be granted only after pilgrims have arrived and participating nations’ officials have had a chance to evaluate the pilgrims’ clinics, which are often located within the hotels’ premises.

Some of the disgruntled and sick pilgrims who spoke with 3sixtyIslam pleaded with the Saudi authorities to prioritize the health of pilgrims over all other factors and grant approval as soon as possible, fearing that the situation could compromise their general well-being prior to the main Hajj rituals.

A frail-looking pilgrim from the FCT who came into the Daru Fahad hotel, assisted by two other pilgrims seeking medical treatment, said, “We are utterly disappointed; we had thought we would get treatment here, but we were told clinical service has not started, referring us to where we don’t know. We are pilgrims here and don’t know anywhere other than our mission and state officials. I am in pain; I don’t even know what is wrong with me.

Another pilgrim who complained of toothache lamented that he couldn’t sleep as he was riddled with pain. He had to resort to self medication this morning, by applying a salt solution to the ailing tooth.

He noted that the disappointment of not getting an immediate solution to an unhealthy condition could aggravate the pain any ailing pilgrims go through, adding that if care is not taken, this development may be counterproductive as the health and well-being of pilgrims may grow worse.

“Some, because of this situation, may resort to self-medication or remain adamant to seeking medical services and this may worsen their condition. So, for me, I beg NAHCON to push for quick approval in order to avert deteriorating health conditions of pilgrims ahead of the journey to Masha’ir and Hajj proper,” he said.

A 65-year-old woman, assisted by two other female pilgrims, was also referred to the Saudi Specialist Hospital. One of her helpers, who managed to speak English, indicated they didn’t know any nearby hospitals and were worried that officials could not even give them first-aid treatment or drugs before referring them to any Saudi clinic.
She said, “One woman immediately referred us to the Saudi clinic, saying no clinical service is available here. But we were asked to come here for treatment. There is no even first-aid treatment, let alone getting drugs to ease the condition of the pilgrim.”

A few days ago, the Medical Committee under the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) advised pilgrims already in Makkah that they needed to access medical services to seek medical assistance from any of Saudi Arabian General or Specialist Hospitals nearer to them, adding that “Saudi Arabia Health Ministry is yet to grant any participating country.

A statement by the commission signed by Hajia Fatima Usara reads in part, “This advice has become necessary because the Saudi Arabian Health Ministry is yet to grant any Hajj participating country the permission to start running clinics in Makkah. Any pilgrim having difficulty in locating such hospitals is advised to contact any of our National Medical Team members (NMT) as soon as possible.

“Meanwhile, all NAHCON clinics in Makkah are fully staffed and equipped, awaiting approval from the Saudi Government—Makkah MoH. Hence, as soon as the host country grants authorization, the clinics will start running 24/7 in its normal tradition. In the meantime, ALL pilgrims are advised to shun self-medication, please,” NAHCON said.