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Saudi gives Nigeria, 22 other countries health conditions for Hajj


Muslim pilgrims circle Islam’s holiest shrine, the Kaaba, at the Grand Mosque in the Saudi holy city of Mecca, on September 6, 2016. The annual Hajj pilgrimage begins on September 10, and more than a million Muslims have already flocked to Saudi Arabia in preparation for what will for many be the highlight of their spiritual lives. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI

•Polio eradication to generate N20trn over next 20 years

The Saudi Arabia authorities have given some health conditions to Nigerian pilgrims and 22 other countries before they could perform the 2017 Hajj.

According to a report published yesterday by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), “Protect against polio this Hajj,” while the pilgrimage is a holy time, it also presents health risks as people are coming together from many countries where they may have been exposed to different infectious diseases.

The report said: “The Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia has issued health requirements and recommendations for entry into Saudi Arabia during the Hajj season, including requirements relating to polio vaccination.

“Regardless of age, all travellers from certain, specified countries must show proof of vaccination against polio within the last twelve months and at least four weeks before departure. All travellers from these countries will also receive one dose of oral polio vaccine on arrival in Saudi Arabia.”

The other countries are Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Niger, Sierra Leone and South Sudan, all from the World Health Organisation (WHO) African Region.

Others are Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Syrian Arab Republic, and Yemen from WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region; Myanmar from WHO South-East Asian Region; Lao People’s Democratic Republic from WHO Western Pacific Region; and Ukraine from WHO European Region.

The GPEI noted that eradicating polio would have a long-lasting impact, saying: “Polio eradication will generate savings of US$50 billion (N20 trillion) over the next 20 years. The polio programme is taking steps to ensure that the knowledge acquired, the tools developed and the infrastructure established by the polio programme would continue to benefit other child health challenges long after polio is gone.”

The GPEI said polio remains endemic in three countries – Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. “Until poliovirus transmission is interrupted in these countries, all countries remain at risk of importation of polio, especially vulnerable countries with weak public health and immunization services and travel or trade links to endemic countries.”

According to the GPEI: “If polio is not eradicated, we could see a global resurgence of the disease, with as many as 200,000 new cases each year within a decade. The programme must remain vigilant and strive for continued improvement to stop it once and for all.”

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