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Saudi Arabia

Health Ministry unveils plan for Haj 1436

RIYADH: The Ministry of Health announced recently that it has drawn up a comprehensive plan to protect the health of Haj pilgrims this year, with a focus on infectious diseases.
The plan was unveiled at the fifth meeting of the Haj preparatory committee held in Riyadh. Hussein Abdullah Al-Ghannam, supervisor of health services for Haj and Umrah pilgrims, said the plan would be implemented in Makkah and Madinah.
There is a focus on the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, Ebola, yellow fever, influenza and polio. Measures would be taken to treat sun and heat stroke patients, and victims of natural disasters. Health officials would undergo special training, he said.
The ministry’s program is aimed at providing integrated health care services to the guests of Allah based on the directives of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman.
The Health Ministry would be linked electronically to other ministries to ensure quality services are provided. It recruits more than 20,000 people with various medical, technical, administrative skills for the Haj season. There will be more than 400 medics specialized in treating rare health conditions.
As a preventive measure, the ministry will deploy officials at all 14 ports of entry to monitor pilgrims coming for the Haj. These officials ensure pilgrims have taken the necessary vaccinations. There would be vaccinations for those who have not done so.
Last year, the ministry said that 80 primary health care centers in Arafat, Mina and Muzdalifah were operational during Haj. Recently, the ministry upgraded these facilities, which include 28 in Mina, 46 in Arafat and six in Muzdalifah. There are seven hospitals, three in Arafat and four in Mina.
This year, the ministry would also focus on combating food poisoning. Pilgrims will be asked not to keep their cooked food for more than two hours. They have also been requested to wash fruits and vegetables 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, the ministry has advised.
The ministry has also advised pilgrims to use disposal shaving kits, and wear masks made of cloth during the Haj rituals to prevent cold, coughs, sore throat and pneumonia. Covering the face with a towel while sleeping in congested rooms also helps prevent respiratory infections.
It has advised patients to be careful if they have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, arthritis, migraine, epilepsy, skin diseases, psychiatric illnesses and gastric ulcers.

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