Posted on September 06, 2016

It’s that time of year again when millions of devout Muslims from around the world embark on their journey to Makkah in Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj in fulfilment of one of the five pillars of Islam.

For over 10 years, Dr. Khalid Abdul Hadi, Senior Consultant - Audiology and Medicine at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), has dedicated his time and effort, along with a group of clinicians from across all healthcare sectors in Qatar, under the auspices of the Ministry of Awqaf, to ensure the Qatari delegation receives medical support during Hajj, if needed.

Qatar Red Crescent (QRC) manages the Hajj Medical Committee, which is responsible for the planning, co-ordination and logistics of the massive and synchronized healthcare undertaking, aimed at providing medical services to the Qatari Hajj pilgrims along holy routes that span four cities across Saudi Arabia. Staff from HMC, Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC), QRC and Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) regularly undergo emergency preparedness training, consisting of real scenarios, drills, briefings and instructional courses, to effectively prepare for any medical emergencies.

“Helping people and being responsible for their safety and well-being during Hajj is very important to me”, said Dr. Abdul Hadi. “This is not a one man show. Our integrated, clinical teams move with pilgrims along each step of their Hajj journey – this includes some doctors and nurses remaining with patients to provide medical treatment,” continued Dr. Abdul Hadi. “Our specialist teams have developed plans on behalf of the MOPH and activated ground support to facilitate operations well in advance of the beginning of Hajj. We prepare ourselves to deliver medical services and first aid kits to thousands of Qatari pilgrims, and anticipate enough resources from HMC and sponsoring healthcare partners, including two ambulances from QRC to support pilgrims in the event they become ill,” he stated.

“We recognize that the risk of trauma and injuries is heightened with the influx of pilgrims to Makkah, and anything could potentially happen when three million people gather in one place. Therefore, we provided necessary disaster training to participating HMC doctors, nurses, pharmacists and paramedics, in an effort to mitigate risk and ensure the safe and effective management of delivering healthcare services for pilgrims who may suffer from respiratory illnesses, heat exhaustion, and other potential illnesses during the five-day ritual expected to begin on Friday, 9 September until Wednesday, 14 September,” added Dr. Abdul Hadi.

The official stressed that pilgrims must take health precautions prior to travel and during their journey. Preventative measures include receiving necessary vaccinations at least 10 days before Hajj. Pilgrims should also practice regular hand washing with soap and water, and avoid hand contact with eyes, nose and mouth as much as possible, as well as adhere to basic cough hygiene protective measures such as using tissue paper when coughing or sneezing and then disposing of the used tissues carefully; these are all important regimens that will keep pilgrims healthy during Hajj and beyond.

“If upon return any pilgrim develops an illness and notices worsening symptoms, such as a high fever greater than 38 degrees Celsius, a cough or breathing problems, they should immediately seek medical assistance from any urgent care center, and that the person should inform the treating physician about their recent Hajj trip”, stated Dr. Abdul Hadi.

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