THE National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) says 22 Nigerians have died during this year’s pilgrimage.
The head, National Medical Team, Dr Ibrahim Kana, disclosed this at a meeting between NAHCON delegation and members of the Bangladesh Hajj office in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
He said the number represented 0.20 per cent of the more than 62,000 pilgrims who performed the pilgrimage.
He said NAHCON had introduced a national medical team to harmonise and properly coordinate health delivery during the exercise.
Kana said the team was worried at the rising cases of sudden death and had decided to perform oral autopsy to ascertain the reasons.
He said the team also installed scanning machines at airports to check cases of women who travel for the pilgrimage while carrying pregnancy.
Earlier the counsellor of the Bangladesh Hajj office, Muhammad Rahman, said 71 pilgrims from his country died during the exercise.
He also briefed the delegation on the organisation of pilgrimage in his country, which he said involved 105,000 pilgrims.
Rahman described the visit by NAHCON as significant as it afforded the two sides opportunity to exchange ideas on their respective operations.
NAHCON chairman, Abdullahi Mohammed, said Nigeria was eager to perfect its hajj operations, hence the decision by the commission to visit similar bodies to learn about their experiences.
He called for greater synergy among countries to improve on the success of the exercise and forge better understanding among their people.
He stressed the need for interaction among pilgrims to explore economic potential of each country, adding that hajj should be seen beyond the spiritual point.
Meanwhile, Mohammed has announced that 34,818 pilgrims have been transported back to Nigeria, 13 days since the exercise started.
He said the pilgrims were transported in 74 flights
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the evacuation of pilgrims back home was slated to end on October 17, but the commission said it was confident that it would finish earlier.