Doctors on unpaid mission proud to serve Hajj pilgrims

Dr. Ahmed Al-Katheeri, a consultant in family medicine at the Jeddah-based King Abdul Aziz University Hospital, speaks to Arab News. (AN photo)
Updated 12 August 2019

Doctors on unpaid mission proud to serve Hajj pilgrims

  • “Money is not everything. The pleasure we feel when volunteering for our work cannot be described,” says Dr. Alaa Al-Hazmi, a volunteer

MINA: It is normal for workers to take breaks to get some rest, but it is unusual when a worker cuts their vacation short to go back to work of their own volition.

Two Saudi consultants did just that in order to provide medical services at Makkah’s holy sites.

Dr. Ahmed Al-Katheeri, a consultant at the Jeddah-based King Abdul Aziz University Hospital, and Dr. Alaa Al-Hazmi, a consultant at the Saudi Health Ministry, have voluntarily decided to work during their leave for an unpaid humanitarian mission.

“Lending a hand to pilgrims is a duty that all Muslims have to do when they can,” Al-Katheeri said. “I was glad to participate for the first time and represent my university in serving pilgrims. We are hoping in future to have a field hospital here so that we can contribute in this noble mission of providing pilgrims with the best possible medical services.

Dr. Alaa Al-Hazmi, family medicine consultant at the health ministry. (AN photo)

“We only came to help. There are many medical staff members at the service of pilgrims, but that does not mean volunteers cannot participate. The biggest motive that made us decide to cut our break times was to see the smile on the faces of the physically ill pilgrims,” he added.

Al-Katheeri urged his fellow doctors to volunteer in future Hajj seasons.

Al-Hazmi said that he had participated in the Hajj four times before, but that this was his first time volunteering.

“Cooperation between different Hajj bodies has now improved and this has also paved the way for anyone to volunteer in a more organized and systematic way,” Al-Hazmi said.

“Volunteers can easily register through the "Be an Assistant" program. The Health Ministry has provided huge numbers of medical staff, but you are talking about millions of pilgrims performing their rituals in a small area. Many of them are old and physically ill. These people need as many medical staff as possible. Moreover, it is an honor to serve pilgrims,” he added.

“Money is not everything. The pleasure we feel when volunteering for our work cannot be described.”



Afghan president praises OIC for promoting peace

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani holds talks with OIC Secretary-General Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen in Jeddah. (SPA)
Updated 3 min 8 sec ago

Afghan president praises OIC for promoting peace

  • Deal signed to establish 100-bed cardiac center in Kabul

JEDDAH: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani met the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, in Jeddah on Sunday. Ghani praised the role of Saudi Arabia and of King Salman in hosting the International Ulema Conference on Peace and Security in Afghanistan 2018, in Makkah in 2018.
He also noted the continuous support provided by the OIC for his country and its active role in promoting peace and security.
Ghani said his country sought to develop ties with the OIC to carry out cultural and social projects to combat extremism, hatred and terrorism.
Al-Othaimeen reiterated the organization’s commitment to promoting peace, security, stability and development in Afghanistan.
He also praised the role of the Afghan government in combatting extremism and fighting terrorism, and condemned the recent bombings in the capital Kabul.  
Meanwhile, the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the Afghan Ministry of Finance signed an agreement to establish and equip a 100-bed cardiac center in Kabul to provide high-quality cardiac health services in Afghanistan, in addition to establishing four integrated rural health care centers to improve access to primary health care services in four Afghan provinces.
The agreement was co-signed by the president of the IDB, Dr. Bandar Hajjar, and the Afghan minister of finance, Dr. Mohammad Qayoumi.
Each of the four rural health care centers will provide a wide range of services in an area of up to 60,000 people. The total cost of the project is $24.84 million based on the preliminary estimates provided by the late King Abdullah’s Fael Khair Program, run by the IDB.
After signing the agreement, Hajjar met with Ghani and discussed ways to develop relations between the two sides.
Ghani spoke of his country’s economic assets, which chiefly depend on agriculture, emphasizing that the IDB’s support for agricultural value chains in Afghanistan is important for developing agricultural production and moving it from the stage of exporting raw materials to exporting products.
Hajjar briefed the Afghan president on the efforts of IDB to improve production and productivity in its member countries.