The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP), in collaboration with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), has launched a large-scale campaign to ensure the health and safety of Hajj pilgrims.
The awareness campaign focuses on health requirements and recommendations for those heading to Saudi Arabia for Hajj and Umrah 1440 and health precautions that must be taken ahead of travel, so as to ensure a safe pilgrimage.
In this context, MoHAP said that a joint coordination committee has been formed with the country’s competent authorities comprising department directors, doctors, nursing and technical staff specialized in preventive, immunization and mass-gathering medicine.
MoHAP has also underlined the availability of the basic and optional vaccines, such as meningococcal, pneumococcal and seasonal influenza to ensure the protection of pilgrims from infectious diseases, with a specific reference to the elderly and people with chronic diseases.
Concerted Efforts of Competent Authorities
Speaking at the joint press conference held on Tuesday, June 11, at InterContinental Dubai – Festival City, H.E. Dr. Hussein Abdel-Rahman Al-Rand, Undersecretary of the Ministry’s Health Assistant Sector, Health Centers and Clinics, shed light on the high-level coordination among the country’s concerned authorities in terms of regulating matters relating to travelers to Saudi Arabia for Hajj.
“These efforts would help ensure the health and safety of all pilgrims and protect them from possible health hazards, most importantly infectious and chronic diseases,” Al Rand added.
In turn, Dr. Abdul Karim Al Zarouni, Head of MoHAP’s Hajj Medical Mission, said: “MoHAP is keen on providing the best medical and regulatory services for Hajj pilgrims as per the highest standards. There are healthcare clinics equipped with the latest equipment and medical supplies in Makkah, Medina, Mina and Arafat as well as mobile medical teams and equipped ambulances, with hot lines to respond to health pilgrims' inquiries, in addition to communicating with the medical teams accompanying the campaigns to provide medicines and medical advice, and monitor the performance of these team in serving pilgrims.
Al Zarouni advised that all pilgrims must take a series of preventive measures and visit the health center to assure their health ability to perform Hajj.
He noted that MoHAP has organized a program to train registered doctors in Hajj system on pilgrims’ medical examination, vaccines and health requirements. Comprising 140 doctors from the primary health care centers in all Emirates, the program aims at providing the best medical and awareness services for Hajj pilgrims, so as to perform their pilgrimage in a safe and healthy way.
The Importance of Preventive Measures
In this regard, Dr. Nada Al Marzouqi, Director of MoHAP’s Preventive Medicine Department, highlighted the significance of visiting the primary health care centres ahead of travel, where doctors provide health advice for Hajj pilgrims and respond to their queries, in addition to guiding them to take the necessary preventive measures in order to avoid heat and physical stress.
“There are also special tips for pilgrims with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart and respiratory diseases, as well as providing information about healthy diet and handing out educational booklets featuring proper health guidelines,” she added.
Vaccine Must Be Taken 15 Days Ahead of Travel
Dr. Laila Al-Jasmi, Head of MoHAP’s Immunization Section, said: “To ensure the most successful and effective preventive measures, the Ministry of Health and Prevention requires that all pilgrims have to be vaccinated against meningitis according to the requirements of the Ministry of Health in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The World Health Organization advises that the influenza vaccine should be taken for all people and pneumococcal vaccine for those over 50 years, especially those with heart disease and diabetes, vaccines against infection and complications of respiratory diseases that spread among pilgrims. All pilgrims are recommended to take vaccine 15 days prior to their traveling date to ensure it is effectiveness.”
Dr. Badriya Al Haremi, Director of Public Health Protection Department at Dubai Health Authority said: “Who wished to perform Hajj this year need to go to the primary health care centers to take advice and the necessary vaccinations.
She also stressed the keenness of the DHA annually to provide programs and awareness campaigns of pilgrims to ensure their health and safety. In this regard, the Department of Public Health Protection this year, in cooperation and coordination with various relevant bodies inside and outside the Health Authority, has prepared to launch the awareness campaign for the Hajj season in next July, under the slogan (safe pilgrimage).
“The campaign includes several activities to acquaint pilgrims with the required preparations ahead of their traveling to Saudi Arabia. It also focuses on the importance of consulting doctors, taking vaccines earlier before their travel, preparing the first aid box and many other activities that aim to raise pilgrims awareness about the possible hazards that they may face during their pilgrimage. The “safe pilgrimage” campaign will also work on correcting some of the wrong behaviors and notions,” Dr. Al Haremi added.
She pointed to the coordination and cooperation with Airport Health Canter and Dubai Airports to organize the said campaign at Dubai Airport, terminal No. 1 and terminal No. 3 to provide pilgrims with the important information and educational materials ahead of their departure to Saudi Arabia.
For her part, Dr. Elham Al-Naemi, Primary Health Care Sector, DHA, said: “Prior to traveling to Saudi Arabia, pilgrims have to make some medical and preventive measures to help them perform their pilgrimage without having any health issues.”
She stressed the importance of taking necessary vaccines at least 15 days ahead of pilgrims travel to Saudi Arabia, as vaccines are one of the most important methods of protections from infectious diseases, adding that DHA has provided 24/7 hotline to serve pilgrims and answer their queries during Hajj season from inside and outside the country.
At the end of the press conference, MoHAP has reiterated a number of health guidelines, which include avoiding direct sunlight for long hours, particularly rush hours, drinking adequate amounts of fluids and discontinuing any type of activity upon feeling of fatigue or stress, and it’s recommended, if so, to visit the nearest medical center.
As for patients with chronic diseases, such as hypertension, and diabetes, MoHAP recommended them to take their medications ahead of travel, along with their own blood glucose and hypertension meter.
Concerning elderly patients, it’s recommended to be accompanied by an escort, in addition to taking emergency drugs and other important medications, such as pain killers, antiseptics and ointment for minor burns.