Hajj Healthy And Safety Awareness Week For British Pilgrims

The Hajj and Umrah (Health and Safety) Awareness week launch at the House of Lords to help and protect pilgrims. The National Hajj and Um...

hajj safety health saudi arabia britain pilgrimage
The Hajj and Umrah (Health and Safety) Awareness week launch at the House of Lords to help and protect pilgrims.

The National Hajj and Umrah Health & Safety awareness week was launched at the House of Lords in September 2011 by the Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK. From the first launch years ago, the campaign aims to raise awareness of the issues amongst the 25,000 prospective British pilgrims who have started travelling to join over 3 million other pilgrims in Makkah to perform Hajj.

Members of the House of Lords, Members of Parliament, Government officials, Diplomats and community dignitaries were present to support this prestigious launch event.

In his welcoming remarks, Lord Ahmed of Rotherham highlighted the importance of this event,
"By launching this awareness week will enhance Hajj related health and safety awareness amongst British pilgrims. It is important that pilgrims must be aware of all aspects of Hajj to enable them to perform Hajj in the safest and best possible manner". 
He also praised the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for providing admirable facilitates for pilgrims.

hajj safety health saudi arabia britain pilgrimage
The Hajj awareness week also lead to part of constructing the world's first Hajj Safety Guide, approved by the Saudi Interior Ministry Prince Naif, my article on Green Prophet.

Key Speakers At Hajj Week
Lord Nazir Ahmed called upon both British and Saudi governments to ensure health and safety of Hajj pilgrims and repeated his demand for sending a Hajj delegation to Saudi Arabia on the eve of Hajj this year.

Watch the unveiling of the UK Hajj and Umrah (Health & Safety) Awareness week launch from September 2011.
  • Safety checks: He said during the tenure of the Labour government a doctors’ delegation was sent at the government’s expenses but due to budget cuts another delegation was not sent this year, while the health and safety of pilgrims is the responsibility of the government.
  • Mosque involvement: He further added a Hajj delegation would have saved the National Health Service hundreds of thousands of pounds. And an orientation of providing health information alongside necessary vaccinations for the sacred journey should also be introduced in all mosques across the UK.
  • Saudi hygiene: Lord Nazir noted that Saudi Arabia is a leading oil producer but the condition of bathrooms there is very substandard. During the last ten days of Ramadan and Hajj hotels and other service charges shoot up tremendously. This needs to be checked and controlled so that low income groups can perform this religious obligation debt-free.
  • Economical concerns: Many British people book for Hajj without looking into how much Hajj tour operators charge them. He advised not to be impressed by colourful advertisements and being careful of bogus travel agents.
Despite concerns raised, MP Anas Sarwar and others said British pilgrims should embark upon their journey with a full preparation.

25000 British Hajj Pilgrims!
Dr Rashid Bhatti said around 25000 Hajjis from the UK will perform Hajj this year. He advised the TB and Hepatitis patients intending to perform Hajj to complete their treatment before leaving to minimise risk of being contagious.
  • Vaccine check ups: He also laid stress on getting vaccinated for meningitis, flu and hepatitis B. Those suffering from heart disease or diabetes should get their complete check ups and keep necessary medicines with them in a zipped bag. 
  • Keeping fit for sa`ee: He said it's necessary to carry out physical exercise 10 days before running between Safa and Marwa - in following the tradition of Hajrah, Prophet Ismael's mother. 
  • Balanced diet: In a foreign environment Dr Bhatti said pilgrims should take extra care of personal cleanliness and hygiene, to take bottled water and eat balanced food.

The main factor behind these health risks is crowded conditions at ritual sites, accommodation and public transportation in Saudi Arabia.

Past Concerns
MP Yasmin Qureshi said several tragic accidents have taken place during past Hajj pilgrimages where a substantial number of pilgrims lost their lives (including a number of British pilgrims) due to stampedes and throwing stones at the pillars (jamaraat), accidents and outbreks of infectious diseases caused a great amount of grief and distress. Fortunately such incidences have become rare thanks to measures taken by the Saudi government. Sadly, 12 Egyptian pilgrims died during this past peak Umrah season.

Health experts specifically reminded diabetics about the high risk of hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose) due to the extremely excessive physical activities being undertaken amongst a large crowded environment.

What To Do Before Hajj
If you're going on Hajj this year or know someone who is, prepare yourself with health check ups, correct medications and a first aid kit.

Another key speaker at the Hajj safety week, Dr Syed Raza Hussain said meningitis is a lethal disease that took the lives of 20 pilgrims last year. Pilgrims should get their complete medical check so that such diseases can be treated in time.
  • Get a physical: Protect yourself from the sun, dehydration, exhaustion, foot problems, respiratory and bronchial illness. Travellers on medication should take an adequate supply with them, accompanied by their doctor’s note describing the medicine and their medical history.
  • Diabetics: It is crucial that diabetic people must visit their doctor for a pre-travel consultation and medical examination to make sure that their diabetes is well controlled.
  • Check for symptoms: Common symptoms specifically for meningitis are stiff neck, high fever, sensitivity to light, confusion, headaches and vomiting.
  • Get inoculated: It's vital that all travellers get the 'quadrivalent meningococcal' vaccine (ACWY) before leaving for Saudi Arabia. A valid certificate of meningitis vaccine from your doctor is compulsory to obtain visa from the Saudi Embassy.

+ Association of British Hujjaj [pilgrims] (ABH UK)

+ Images: ABH UK, Green Prophet


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