1.3m medical services provided to Hajj pilgrims: KSA minister

RIYADH   -   Saudi Minister of Health Fahd Al-Jalajel has said that over 1.3 million medical services were rendered and health protocols to pilgrims during this year’s Hajj which effectively mitigated heat stress.

“We have completed successful execution of health management efforts during the Hajj season of 2024. This achievement was made possible through the coordinated efforts of the health system and the Hajj security forces, with no recorded outbreaks of epidemics or widespread diseases. Notably, the health system provided more than 465,000 specialized treatment services, including 141,000 services to those who didn’t obtain official authorization to perform Hajj,” said the minister in a media interview yesterday. The minister detailed that the Kingdom’s provision of free health services to pilgrims commenced even before their arrival, with awareness programs at air, sea, and land border crossings. Approximately 1.3 million preventive services were delivered, including early detection, vaccinations, and medical care upon arrival.

The healthcare services offered included open-heart surgeries, cardiac catheterization, dialysis, and emergency care, totalling over 30,000 ambulance services, with 95 air ambulance operations ensuring the delivery of advanced health services in medical cities across the Kingdom. Additionally, the healthcare system made available nearly 6,500 beds and rooms. Measures to combat heat stress included the development of devices that enable rapid and effective rescue of affected individuals.

He expressed re-assurance about the overall health condition of the pilgrims, despite the high temperatures experienced in the Holy Sites. He highlighted the positive impact of the health authorities’ swift response, and the effective support of the Hajj security forces in managing and reducing the effects of heat stress.

The health system addressed numerous cases of heat stress this year, with some individuals still under care. Regrettably, the number of mortalities reached 1,301, with 83 per cent being unauthorized to perform Hajj and having walked long distances under direct sunlight, without adequate shelter or comfort. Among the deceased were several elderly and chronically ill individuals.

Fahd Al-Jalajel underscored the significant efforts made by the competent authorities to raise awareness on the dangers of heat stress and the importance of preventive measures. He extended his condolences, saying, “May God forgive and have mercy on the deceased. Our heartfelt condolences go to their families. May God accept their deeds and grant them recompense for their suffering. All reports have been compiled, families of the deceased notified, and identification completed, despite the initial lack of personal information or identification documents. Proper processes were followed for identification, burial, and honouring the deceased, with death certificates provided.”

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