|20 July, 2019

DHA's reminder to pilgrims in UAE for Haj travel

It is part of DHA's ongoing health and happiness campaign

Image used for illustrative purpose. Muslim pilgrims pray around the holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque on the first day of Eid al-Adha during the annual haj pilgrimage in Mecca September 24, 2015.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Muslim pilgrims pray around the holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque on the first day of Eid al-Adha during the annual haj pilgrimage in Mecca September 24, 2015.

REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Seek proper medical advice before Haj travel, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has reminded pilgrims as part of the DHA's ongoing 'Al Haj, health and happiness' campaign.

Dr Badria Al Harmi, director of public health protection department at the DHA, said: "The most important step for any Haj 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."


The meningococcal vaccine is mandatory for all pilgrims. Pilgrims are advised 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 immunocompromised patients, the elderly and those with chronic diseases.

Carry medical reports, prescriptions and medications

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. 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.

Dr Al Harmi 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

"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," said Dr Al Harmi. "To avoid dehydration and heat exhaustion, it is important to stay well hydrated and avoid long exposure to sun rays."

Al Harmi added that it is important for people to recognise 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 sunny places, cool their body with cold water and head to the nearest medical facility or contact their campaign doctor immediately."

Hygiene and health safety measures

"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," advised Dr Al Harmi. "After the pilgrimage, it is important to rest and drink lots of fluids to help the body recover."

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