Home PodcastJulie Alli SAHUC upholds quality healthcare amidst adversity

SAHUC upholds quality healthcare amidst adversity

by Luqmaan Rawat
Despite all the challenges, SAHUC are doing their best to provide medical care for hujjaj Photo Pexels

Saudi Arabia – Last week, the hujjaj and their families were in panic mode after hearing the medical clinic in Madinah was closed down by the Saudi authorities. However, the medical clinic was not shut down by the Saudi authorities, but by its new owners, which forced the South African Hajj and Umrah Council (SAHUC) to find new premises quickly in order to continue to provide healthcare for the hujjaj.

The new management did not permit SAHUC to operate a clinic from within Taiba Shopping Center, leading to the relocation of the clinic to the Ring Road. This has caused some inconvenience for the pilgrims, as they now need to travel a bit further to reach the clinic, explained Shaheen Essop, President of SAHUC.

“The purpose of having the clinic within the Taiba Center was to be in close proximity to the hujjaj. To make it easy for them to get to the clinic when needed. I’m sure you’re seeing some indication from hujjaj that they either have to take a taxi or take an Uber to this particular facility which is a little bit away and especially with road closures it makes it quite difficult.”

Despite the challenges posed by the relocation of the clinic, SAHUC’s dedicated team of doctors and nurses have strived to treat the pilgrims with the utmost care and professionalism. Positive feedback from pilgrims who have visited the clinic highlights the excellent service provided by the medical staff.


Sourcing medication from South Africa and transporting it 

Essop also addressed concerns about the transportation of medical supplies. There are concerns the medication is being transported in an unsanitary and dangerous manner which Essop denied. If such was taking place, the Saudi Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) would have put a stop to it.

“We ship out our medicines from South Africa via a shipping agent into Madinah. We clear all our meds with the SFDA. The mere fact that our medicines arrive in cargo in the cartons or in the boxes that they are supposed to arrive in, the SFDA would obviously destroy it if it were not couriered or not transported in a manner that is conducive for it to be done so.”

Another issue raised was why medication needed to be transported from South Africa to KSA. Several factors contribute to this decision including the cost of medication and the quality of medicine found in Saudi Arabia.

“In 2012 we looked at the different facilities and different options in terms of sourcing. We spent some time with pharmaceutical groups in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, what we found is that the cost of medication in the kingdom was three times more expensive than what it would be in South Africa. Secondly the added factor is the exchange rate differential. The third situation is that the company was only offering generics and those generics come out of Egypt and other pharmaceutical producing countries.”

According to the doctors at SAHUC, the quality of medication in South Africa is far superior to what is being offered in Saudi Arabia. For these reasons, it was decided that SAHUC would ship medication from South Africa to Saudi Arabia for the hujjaj.

SMread: Discovering the Profound Experience of Hajj with Mohammed Khota


How SAHUC deals with emergency cases and Saudi Hospital Care

SAHUC ensures that medical facilities are available not only in Madinah but also in Makkah and Azizia. As the hujjaj proceed to Makkah and Azizia, the medical staff move with them. This ensures continuous medical care is provided throughout the pilgrimage. While the medical tents are meant to deal with blisters, dehydration and minor injuries, should there be a serious emergency, SAHUC are prepared to deal with such cases. 

“An ambulance will take the person, once we have a referral letter from our doctors, directly to the hospital and all the services are free. SAHUC services are also free from the R1650 that pilgrims pay. It gets repatriated into servicing them in Madinah, Makkah and Azizia as well as the meet and greet at the various airports and various other aspects.”

Despite the challenges posed by the relocation, SAHUC’s dedicated medical team continues to provide excellent care for the hujjaj, ensuring their well-being. Their commitment to quality healthcare remains unwavering, which will contribute to a positive and fulfilling Hajj experience for all.


In an illuminating conversation with Jullie Alli, Shaheen Essop shared valuable insights regarding the relocation of the clinic, the provision of free healthcare for urgent cases, and SAHUC’s persistent efforts to deliver exceptional healthcare services Listen to that discussion here:

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