Pilgrims preparing to travel to Saudi Arabia to undertake Hajj in August are advised to be prepared with up to date health information and travel advice.
Requirements and recommendations may be different each year, but travellers must make sure they are up to date with the relevant vaccinations such as meningococcal disease, malaria, tuberculosis, hepatitis B, polio, and diphtheria.
Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Makkah (Mecca), in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is one of the largest gatherings of its kind in the world.
Dr Muzzafar Pervez, a leading GP from NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “It is vitally important that anyone travelling to a country such as Saudi Arabia ensure they seek advice about which vaccinations they need around 4–6 weeks before travel.
“In addition, if they take any regular medication, then they should ensure that they have enough to last the length of the trip, storing it properly and making sure they are taken on time. A first aid kit will also be useful to help manage relevant, common health issues as well as making sure they have the correct amount of health insurance should they fall ill whilst travelling.”
In August, the temperature in Saudi Arabia will be very hot, often reaching around 43oC making the rituals of the Hajj demanding.
Dr Muzzafar Pervez at the CCG shares his tips for protection again heat exhaustion and sunstroke: “As in any hot weather, you should make sure you drink enough liquid at regular intervals, avoid exposure to the sun for long and ensuring you use a high factor sun protection. Also make sure your physical condition allows for the amount of walking that Hajj requires, and take sufficient rest to restore your energy.
The KSA Ministry of Health currently recommends that as a precautionary measure, elderly people, those suffering from chronic diseases, those with immune deficiency, pregnant women and children should postpone the performance of the Hajj and Umrah.
More information on pilgrimage to KSA is available at http://www.moh.gov.sa/en/Hajj/HealthGuidelines/Pages/DuringHajj.aspx and http://nathnac.net/