Researchers make recommendations for reducing health risks at the Hajj

EMBARGO: 00:01H (London time) Friday March 24, 2006. In North America the embargo lifts at 18:30H ET Thursday March 23, 2006.

Muslims embarking on the Hajj--an annual religious pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia--should receive counselling, vaccinations, and education to reduce the health risks they face during the 10-day ritual, state the authors of a Review in this week's Lancet Middle East special issue.

Annually, millions of Muslims embark on the Hajj. Pilgrims face a number of health risks including infectious diseases, heat exhaustion, and injury from accidents. In their Review Ziad Memish (King Fahad National Guard Hospital, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) and colleagues make health recommendations for prospective pilgrims. The authors state that international collaboration, through informing clinicians and pilgrims, will lessen the risks both for the travelling and the returned pilgrim.

Professor Memish comments: "Hajj management, even for a nation as well-resourced as Saudi Arabia, is an overwhelming task. International collaboration by planning vaccination campaigns, developing visa quotas, and arranging rapid repatriation are integral to managing health hazards at the Hajj."

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Contact: Ziad A Memish, King Abdulaziz Medical City, King Fahad National Guard Hospital, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. T) +966-5-05483515 memish@ngha.med.sa


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