With Hajj expected to fall in the first week of October this year, those who are planning to embark on the religious journey should be well into their preparations at the moment.
Health wise, it is all the more important that the right precautions are taken this year, as the spread of infectious viruses form a challenge to global travel.
In its Twitter clinic last week, Dubai Health Authority (DHA) discussed the measures that should be taken to undertake a safe and healthy trip.
Nusaiba Al Behandy, specialist registrar at the Al Mankhool Traveler’s Clinic said: “The most important step for any hajj pilgrim is to avail of the necessary vaccines, at least 10 days prior to the date of travel. Ideally, travellers should visit the DHA Primary Healthcare Centres one month in advance.”
She added that the meningococcal vaccine is mandatory, the flu vaccine is recommended for everyone undertaking the pilgrimage and the pneumonia vaccine is highly recommended for immmo-comprised patients, the elderly and those with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart problems, etc.
Hend Al Awadhi, specialist registrar at the Al Mankhool Traveler’s Clinic, highlighted that because of the risk of certain respiratory diseases, it is recommended that the following groups postpone their plans for Hajj and Umrah this year: People over 65 years old, children below 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.)
She further advised that people should carry enough stock of their medications, especially if they suffer from a chronic disease that requires them to take medications regularly. “They must visit their physician prior to travel so that they carry their necessary medications. They should also carry their prescription and a detailed report of the medical diagnosis and history and keep it with them at all times.”
She also advocated that people with low immunity should take all the necessary vaccines. “Other basic precautions such as drinking lots of fluids to keep oneself hydrated, consuming foods rich in vitamin C, regular hand washing and use of hand sanitisers is essential.
“All pilgrims should also beware of salmonella poisoning which can occur when food is uncooked or under-cooked or kept outside for long hours. Pilgrims should ensure that they consume food within two hours of it being cooked. Food which is cooked and kept at room temperature or in the bus beyond two hours, is prone to get bacterial growth which can lead to serious problems such as food poisoning.”
Ayesha Altheeb, specialist registrar at the Al Mankhool Traveler’s Clinic, raised the topic of shaving hair during Hajj, which requires to be done following safety standards. “People who want to shave or cut their hair during the pilgrimage should follow certain precautions to avoid transmission of infectious diseases such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. They should ensure that the barber is licensed and that he uses a single-use razor and disposes the blade immediately. Never share shaving equipment with others and do not walk barefoot to ensure no used needle or razor can prick your leg.”
Altheeb added that pilgrims should avoid kissing and hugging when greeting others, they must ensure they never share a prayer mat and should use their own mat, they should not touch their eyes, nose or mouth without washing hands and they should avoid direct sunlight for long hours.
Lastly, Hajj pilrgrims should protect themselves against the risks of heat exhaustion and sun strokes, she argued. “Avoid Tawaf, Sa’i, Arafat and Mina during high temperatures or ensure that you are well protected against the sunrays and are well hydrated.
“If one experiences high body temperature, nausea, fatigue, cramps, thirst, headaches or excessive sweating, it is important to move away from a sunny place, cool the body with cold water and if necessary, head to the nearest medical facility or contact your campaign doctor immediately,” said Altheeb.
The DHA panelists advocated that it is important to rest after Hajj and drink lots of fluids to help the body recover.
Source: Emirates 24/7