MOH News
Dr. Khoja Commends the Health Services Provided for the Pilgrims
15 September 2015
The Director-General of the Executive Board of the GCC Health Ministers Council, Dr. Tawfik Khoja, said that Hajj season is a world unique experience occurring every year, applauding the extraordinary efforts made by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in this great Hajj occasion. He indicated that Allah Almighty has honored the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with serving pilgrims, and the Government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz - May Allah protect him – is keen to harness the enormous potential to provide the best services and care for pilgrims in all fields, including the health services provided by the Ministry of Health (MOH), which have witnessed a quantum leap in terms of quantity, type and quality, through an advanced preventive, ambulatory and curative system, in addition to highly skilled medical staff, under the wise leadership of the Minister of Health Eng. Khalid Al-Falih.

MOH is working with full capacity and employing all of its sectors, over the year, to provide top healthcare for pilgrims despite the difficult conditions, such as the presence of large numbers of pilgrims in a limited space, leading up to the rapid prevalence of infection, high rate of accidents and injuries caused by traffic congestion. The majority of pilgrims are aged over fifty, and some suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes, blood pressure, asthma, and heart disease, etc. This is particularly noteworthy, given the diversity of nationalities, languages, traditions and cultures of pilgrims. Besides, climatic changes expose pilgrims to sunstrokes, heat exhaustion in summer; respiratory infection and common cold in winter, leading to the increase of the number of inpatients and outpatients.

The Director-General of the Executive Board of the GCC Health Ministers Council lauded the excellent healthcare services and the accompanying significant increase in diagnostic, therapeutic and clinical services, in light of the steady increase in the number of pilgrims from one year to another. He expounded that the MOH is keen to develop accurate and proper plans that would suit this great occasion in Muslims' lives, which takes place in the most sacred place in the whole world, pointing out that these plans are developed based on extensive study and evaluation of the pros and cons of last season, so as to prepare for coming season. He added that MOH provides distinctive health services during Hajj season in line with the integrated and comprehensive plan for the preventive, therapeutic and ambulatory services; plus specific objectives, focusing on providing integrated and preventive health services with the aim of prevention from infectious diseases and epidemics; and curbing any spread or outbreak. "In addition to providing integrated therapeutic health services in all health facilities in Makkah, the Holy Sites, Madinah and the land, sea, air entry ports, as well as taking all necessary precautions to prevent and deal with any emergency or accident-Allah Forbids- that might happen to this huge human gathering, MOH makes sure to deliver a rapid response to provide emergency services at the highest possible level of accuracy and efficiency to address disaster and accidents cases," he expanded.  


Khoja went on to elaborate this year's Hajj plan, which depends on the preventive aspects, adopting the slogan of "prevention is better than cure," in order to prevent the epidemic diseases, and early detect the infected cases, as well as limiting and containing the epidemiological and quarantine diseases, and applying health requirements on all workers. The supportive technical services aim at providing all the information and requirements needed to operate health facilities such as: medical supplies, all types of laboratories, nutrition, statistics and information. On the other hand, operational services aim at facilitating implementation of all kinds of work and operational procedures for all health facilities and those in charge of them. Such services include: transportation, housing, communication, maintenance and cleaning, medical maintenance, and medical waste disposal, in addition to the other ambulatory and emergency, and developmental services plus supervisory and media aspects.  

"Meanwhile, I would like to commend the efforts made by the MOH in the fields of preventive medicine and public health including; issuing and circulating health requirements to all originating countries of pilgrims; operating centers for disease control at pilgrims entry points, increasing specialized quarantine rooms, activating the role of the Command and Control Center and the participation of Advisory Scientific Board and the Global Center of Mass Gathering Medicine in KSA. The Ministry also plays a significant role in spreading health awareness and healthy practices adopted by the Ministry," he said. Khoja also praised the role of the therapeutic medicine services, support services, and the role of other health sectors that support the health services provided by the Kingdom for pilgrims, including: the National Guard, the Security Forces, and the Saudi Red Crescent Authority. 

As for the role of the medical Hajj missions in maintaining the health of pilgrims, Dr. Khoja said that there is complete cooperation and coordination between the Saudi Ministry of Health and Gulf medical missions, pointing out that the ministers of health in GCC countries paid great attention to this matter since their sixth conference in 1979, by virtue of which, the pilgrim health card form was adopted and circulated to all member states. He added that the card includes a special place to record immunizations adopted by the Saudi Ministry of health as well as the logo of the Executive Office.

The conference also emphasized, for each of the member states, the importance of providing epidemiological statistics about its pilgrims, and for Saudi Arabia to prepare final statistics and circulate them to the countries for reference. The ministers also approved the work guidelines, proposed by the Technical Committee on diarrhea, sunstroke and communicable diseases detected by medical groups. He said the ministers had listed some recommendations including; intensifying awareness campaigns for pilgrims before their departure from their country; studying the possibility of unifying health education programs for pilgrims in all member states, in addition to the various meetings and intensive activities held by the Executive Office and the member states during the previous Hajj season.

Furthermore, the GCC Hajj Committee focused on the environmental health for the pilgrims through continuous inspection of accommodation and obligating the Tawafa organizations to adhere to guidelines in this regard. Health requirements in places of preparing food and toilets are to be strictly observed. Recommendations also included providing appropriate air conditioning; securing communication between the pilgrims and their medical missions to provide an opportunity for these missions to do their medical tasks quickly and send ambulances to patients when necessary. The committee recommended also the use of "plastic wrist bracelet" which includes some important information about the pilgrim and his health. It also recommended integration of the activities of medical missions of the Holy Sites in the Saudi health facilities, that may provide an opportunity for mission members to work with staff of these facilities as a one team, especially after the comprehensive coverage of the Holy Sites with hospitals and health centers. 

In conclusion, Dr  Khoja said, "I would like to commend all the efforts of the MOH, readiness of its health services and the outstanding preparation to serve the pilgrims. Meanwhile, I extend my thanks, gratitude and appreciation to all those involved in providing these services, most notably His Excellency the Minister of Health, Eng. Khalid Al-Falih, for the intensive efforts and good works prayed for Allah Almighty to reward the Rulers - May Allah protect them - the best reward for their good efforts meant to facilitate the provision of the best services to pilgrims, and to help us all do to all that pleases Him. He, exalted and glorified be He, listens and responds.
 
 



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