IYADH: Saudi authorities have deployed officials at all 14 ports of entry to monitor the health condition of pilgrims coming for the upcoming Haj.
Mohammed Khosheim, deputy health minister for planning and development, reviewed the program at the Health Haj Preparatory Committee meeting held in Riyadh on Monday and said the officials would ensure pilgrims have taken the necessary vaccinations.
“If they have not taken them, relevant doses will be given to them at the ports of entry so that they are protected against contagious diseases,” he said.
The ministry through overseas Saudi missions has already instructed incoming pilgrims to produce vaccination certificates against yellow fever, meningitis, polio and influenza depending on their countries of origin.
Most of the pilgrims from the African and South American continents have been advised to take vaccinations against yellow fever which is endemic to those countries and vaccinations against meningitis have been made compulsory for all since it is contagious, especially in large crowds of people.
Children between the ages of two and 15 years were asked to take an oral dose of the polio vaccine before their departure to the Kingdom.
Vaccinations against meningitis are valid for three years and the pilgrims have been advised to take the injection at least 10 days before their departure to the holy cities.
Haj visas are issued at Saudi missions only on production of the vaccination certificates.
Khosheim said health officials would also check food brought into the Kingdom by pilgrims to ensure that they are not contaminated.
“Expired food items will not be allowed at any cost,” he added.
Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Khalid Al-Mirghalani pointed out that food poisoning and influenza are the common health problems experienced by pilgrims. “These problems are mainly due to the negligence of pilgrims in following basic health rules.”
Al-Mirghalani said pilgrims should inform the authorities of any chronic diseases so that such data could be entered in their respective files and used in case of emergencies.
Reviewing the reports from the chairmen of committees, it was noted at the meeting that the health director of Madinah province has requested more manpower and facilities to serve the increased number of pilgrims who visit the Prophet’s Mosque.