The Nigerian Medical Mission to Saudi Arabia for the 2023 hajj has recommended sanctions on states with high number of advanced pregnant women pilgrims.
Dr Usman Galadima, Chief of Operations and Head of the mission, made the recommendation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Makkah on Tuesday.
The mission was constituted by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) with a view to providing quality healthcare services to Nigerian pilgrims in Saudi Arabia throughout the Hajj period.
Galadima said that the mission had recorded cases of pregnant women coming for pilgrimage in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in spite of sustained efforts and awareness to prevent them from going for hajj.
He confirmed that a Nigerian pilgrim had delivered a seven-month-old baby through cesarean section in Madina.
The head of the medical mission added that it had recorded cases of miscarriages which could have been prevented if the affected women registered for antenatal at the mission’s clinic.
Galadima called for a strong commitment from all hajj stakeholders to curtail the rate of pregnant women coming for pilgrimage.
According to him, any woman that wants to come on a pilgrimage should plan well including avoidance of getting pregnant.
Galadima said: “What I will advise that probably if some punitive measures can be established or be carried out against erring states or states with a certain number of advanced pregnancies that is obvious to everybody.
“Probably that will curtail the surge that we are seeing now. So I think it requires commitment on the side of all the stakeholders.”
He said that during its pre-hajj programmes organised by the medical team, screening for prospective pilgrims in all the 36 states and the FCT were done.
According to him, the medical screening which included pregnancy tests were conducted by state nominees or members of the medical team that are from the states.
He added: “Even among the staffers of NAHCON, pregnancy tests were done on each and every one of them and members of the medical team.
“So, NAHCON has zero tolerance for this. However, we still find them here now some are not aware or do not know that they are pregnant but some obviously concealed these pregnancies.
”It is curious to note that someone with advanced pregnancy missed all the screening.”
Galadima said that combining pregnancy and rigours of hajj was very difficult, adding that the woman runs a risk of losing the pregnancy and putting her life at risk.
He added: “However, what we want to appeal now is that those that are pregnant, if actually they are aware, they should come to the hospital and register.
“We will carry out ante-natal services for them and this is because we have specialists such as Gynecologists and Obstetricians among us.
”So, we can look after them, look after their pregnancy and tell them the life style to adopt and how to prevent loss of pregnancy.”
Galadima stated that so far, the medical team had attended to over 11,000 pilgrims with different kinds of illnesses.
He added: “We have sufficient drugs and we are not getting so much complaints. However, we have registered two mortalities.
“We had two deaths, one male and one female. That of the female occurred on Monday evening and that of the male, a few days ago. We have a total of 534 members of the Nigerian medical team out of which 222 are doctors and almost about 200 nurses as well. We have 93 pharmacists and about 27 community health officers.
“This is the highest number of medical professionals that we had to bring to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and this is because of the large contingent of Nigerian pilgrims which is about 95,000.”