Special tents to combat chemical pollution introduced for hajj

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The Ministry of Health has set up special tents in the holy sites for initial handling of any cases of exposure by pilgrims to chemical pollution.

“It is a precautionary measure that we have taken to face any unexpected incidents,” said Minister of Health Dr. Abdullah al-Rabeeah following a field inspection visit on the readiness of the MOH Center of Emergency and Field Medicine in al-Muaisim in Mina.

The minister assured that no cases of MERS-CoV infection that still causes fear among pilgrims, or any communicable disease was detected among pilgrims.

“We are more hopeful, with the will of Allah, to have this year a hajj season that is safe, successful and free of serious sicknesses that threatens the life of pilgrims,” he told reporters.

The minister said the Ministry of Health’s preparedness is on a high scale to save the lives of the pilgrims, and based on its long proven track record and expertise in mass gathering medicine and epidemic surveillance of pilgrims coming from all over the world it is geared in cooperation with World Health Organization.

After inspection of the emergency and field medicine fleet, Rabeeah expressed his satisfaction at the readiness of the fleet and the state-of-art equipment used in each vehicle, the fleet and the expertise, in addition to the system developed to track the movement of each vehicle.

The ministry is also using a host of methods to handle sunstroke cases among pilgrims. “Besides the ambulances that are equipped to deal with these kind of cases, there are emergency departments and intensive care units at the hospitals that have been provided with advanced equipment,” he said.

Dr. Tarik Arnos, an official in the ministry said field fleet of ambulances has been increased to 135 by adding 50 new small size advanced ambulances that can easily get into crowded areas, to its 85 existing large ambulances.

He mentioned that the fleet is run by a control center that uses GPS for better and accurate reach to the patient’s location in the very crowded hajj areas carrying patients to appropriate healthcare facility in record time.

He also mentioned that the ministry this year has mobilized medical teams at 18 stop points on the train route in the holy sites in Arafat and Mina, in cooperation with the Red Crescent and the Ministry of Municipality and Rural Affairs.

Meanwhile, eight open heart operations were conducted on pilgrims since the beginning of this season up till 6th day of Dhul Hijja. Also, around 110 catheterization procedures were made to pilgrims during the same period. Al-Rabeeah revealed this during the tour of East Arafat Hospital, Namera Hospital, Mount Arafat Hospital, and Mina al-Wadi Hospital.

He said the healthcare facilities are all provide with dialyses equipment and have conducted over 300 dialysis sessions to pilgrims. The Minister said that 25 hospitals and 141 primary healthcare centers were put under the disposal of pilgrims at hajj zones in Makkah, Madina, and other holy sites.

Sudanese pilgrim, Abdulgafour Othman, 55, said that prior to his coming to the Kingdom for hajj he felt a mild pain in his chest but he decided to continue his hajj trip. After performing Umrah upon his arrival, the pain increased and he suffered difficulties in breathing. He was moved to a nearby hospital where physicians decided to transfer him to King Abdullah Medical City (KAMC) for blockage in some heart arteries.

At the KAMC, a cardiologist confirmed the blockage of two arteries, so an operation was conducted to him using state-of-the-art equipment. Now he is in good condition.

An Indonesian pilgrim, Surando, 50, arrived to the Kingdom two weeks ago. Following his arrival he felt a pain in his chest and after being diagnosed at KAMC of a blockage in his heart arteries an open heart surgery was conducted. He is to be discharged soon.

Ahmad al-Ghamdi, 29, too encountered sudden pain in his chest and after checking up at Yanbu Hospital, a blockage in some heart arteries was discovered. He was transferred to KAMC where a blockage in two arteries and a damaged valve was found. Accordingly an operation to remove the blockage and to fix the damage was conducted and he is in good condition waiting for additional operations after hajj.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Oct. 14, 2013.