Posted on: Saturday 20 October, 2012 9:26
|Pilgrims advised to avoid midday sun
As hundreds of thousands of Haj pilgrims arrive in the holy city of Makkah for the annual pilgrimage, the Ministry of Health advised all pilgrims to avoid exposure to midday sun to prevent themselves from heat strokes due to dehydration.
“We advise pilgrims to stay indoors during the period of overhead sun to prevent them from problems such as stress, heat stroke and dehydration,” Director General of Health Affairs in Makkah Khaled Zafar said yesterday. He added it is also advisable to avoid congestion in the crowd to prevent respiratory diseases.
While insisting on wearing face mask during the performance of Haj rituals, the official urged pilgrims to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and told them to take extra care of their food during their stay in the Kingdom.
“We have completed all arrangements at the health facilities for Haj pilgrims in the holy city of Makkah, and we are ready to face any emergency health situation within the holy area,” Zafar said.
The director general pointed out that the Ministry of Health is working through a network of hospitals and primary health care centers to treat the guests of Allah in the best possible manner.
Aside from eight hospitals in Makkah, he said, there are nine specialized hospitals to look after the health of the pilgrims. These facilities have around 3,000 beds, in addition to 100 primary health care centers and 40 centers in Makkah. The services of King Abdullah Medical City will also be available for pilgrims in rare and specialized disciplines such as cardiovascular, neuro, renal, eye, liver and malignant diseases.
He said the health arrangements had been made in coordination with governmental and nongovernmental organizations such as the Makkah governorate, Civil Defense, Red Crescent, the government’s surveillance team, and the Health Ministry’s health awareness team.
In the event of a shortage of beds in Makkah, Zafar said he had made arrangements to ferry patients to hospitals in Taif.
Describing the current health situation in Makkah as excellent, he said there had been no incidence of epidemic diseases in the holy city so far,. He added that the ministry had been making all-out efforts to prevent infectious disease creeping into the crowd of pilgrims.
As a preventive measure against epidemic diseases, the ministry has deployed officials at all 14 ports of entry to monitor the health condition of pilgrims. These officials ensure pilgrims have taken the necessary vaccinations, and those who have not are given the relevant shots at the ports of entry to protect them from contagious diseases.
Prior to the commencement of the Haj season, the Ministry of Health sent out circulars to all Saudi embassies detailing the quarantine requirements in the respective countries for the issuance of the pilgrim visa.
This year, the Kingdom has focused on illnesses such as yellow fever, meningitis, seasonal influenza and polio. The stipulated vaccines should be given 10 days before the date of departure for the cities of Makkah and Madinah.
A spokesman from the ministry said: “We have prescribed some vaccines considering the incidence of the disease in some countries.” He added that the ships and aircraft carrying pilgrims had been requested to produce a certificate that the carriers are free of mosquitoes.
He said the Ministry of Health would continue to monitor the situation locally, regionally and globally in close coordination with the departments concerned and the international health authorities.
The ministry recruited more than 20,000 people from various medical, technical and administrative categories for Haj. There are 441 medics in rare medical disciplines including intensive care, breathing catheter and treatment, as well as nursing intensive care and emergencies.
This year, the ministry has also been focusing on food poisoning. Pilgrims have been asked not to keep their cooked food for more than two hours to avoid food poisoning. They have also been requested to wash fruits and green leaves before consumption. Meat and vegetables should not be washed together when preparing to cook.
Personal hygiene and hygienic cooking, storing, transporting and serving methods are important to avoid diarrhea and vomiting, food poisoning, dysentery, typhoid and cholera. Hands should be washed before eating. Disposable shaving kits should be used.
Wearing masks made of cloth during the performance of various Haj rituals will be useful in preventing respiratory infections such as colds, coughs, sore throats and pneumonia.
Covering the face with a towel while sleeping in congested rooms also helps prevent respiratory infections. Diagnosed cases of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, arthritis, migraine, epilepsy, skin diseases, psychiatric illnesses and gastric ulcer should be properly controlled with appropriate treatment.