United Arab Emirates, Dubai, July 1, 2019: The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has advised pilgrims to ensure they seek medical advice before going to Hajj.
Dr Badria Al Harmi, Director of Public Health Protection Department at DHA says, “The most important step for any hajj pilgrim is to avail of the necessary vaccines. Ideally, the vaccines should be taken four weeks prior to travel. Every pilgrim should also visit their family medicine doctor six to four weeks prior to travel, especially if they have chronic diseases such as diabetes.”
Al Harmi says, “The meningococcal vaccine is mandatory for all pilgrims. We also advice pilgrims to take the flu vaccine especially people over 65 years old, children under 12 years old, pregnant women, people with cancer or terminal illnesses, people with chronic diseases (such as heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, or respiratory disease. The pneumonia vaccine is recommended for immmocomprised patients, the elderly and those with chronic diseases.
Carry medical reports and prescriptions and enough stock of medications:
Al Harmi advised all Hajj pilgrims, especially those with chronic diseases, to visit their family physician four to six weeks before travel.
“All pilgrims with chronic diseases should understand their care plan from their physician before they embark on their pilgrimage. Sometimes the doctor may recommend a change in dosage medication depending on the current medical status so it's always best to seek medical consultation before the pilgrimage.”
She added that pilgrims should carry their prescription and a detailed medical diagnosis and history and keep it with them at all times. Pilgrims should carry enough stock of their medications, especially if they suffer from a chronic disease that requires them to take medications regularly.
Diabetics: Keep sugar source handy
Dr Al Harmi says that people with diabetes may also be at an increased risk for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels). “During the pilgrimage, diabetics should monitor their blood sugar levels more frequently. They should always carry some type of sugar source to treat hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) episodes. They also need to ensure they take their medications on time to avoid hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).”
She added medications should be stored properly especially medication such as insulin which needs to be stored at a low temperature.
Avoid spread of germs and stay hydrated:
Al Harmi says: “Pilgrims should not share their prayer mat; they should not touch their eyes, nose or mouth without washing hands. Hand hygiene especially prior to eating food is an important measure to avoid catching germs.”
She says that to avoid dehydration and heat exhaustion it is important to stay well hydrated and avoid long exposure to sunrays.
Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion:
Al Harmi advises that it is important for people to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion. “High body temperature, fatigue, nausea, cramps, thirst, headaches or excessive sweating are some of the main symptoms. The pilgrim should move away from a sunny place, cool the body with cold water and head to the nearest medical facility or contact their campaign doctor immediately.”
Hygiene and health safety measures:
Al Harmi says, “At the end of Hajj, some men shave their heads. It is very important to be aware that non-sterile blades can transmit blood-borne infections, such as hepatitis B. They should only go to licensed barbers at officially designated centres. Moreover, a disposable single-use blade or your personal razor should be used. Never share shaving equipment with others and do not walk barefoot to ensure no used needle or razor can prick your leg.”
Al Harmi says that after the pilgrimage it is important to rest and drink lots of fluids to help the body recover.
The DHA wishes all the Hajj pilgrims hajj mabroor wa saii mashkoor.