Health Advice for Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia
The annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia is amongst the largest mass gatherings in the world.
It draws about 3 million Muslims from around the world. Each year, more than a thousand Muslims from Singapore make the pilgrimage. Umrah is a similar pilgrimage that many Muslims take during the month of Ramadan.
Here are some tips to help keep you safe and healthy during your pilgrimage.
Before your trip, ensure that your vaccines are up-to-date.
Although not mandatory, it would be good to make sure you are up-to-date for the following vaccines:
- Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR)
- Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis (DPT)
- Varicella (Chickenpox)
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
Malaria prevention tablets is recommended for Al Bahah, Al Madinah, Asir (excluding areas above 2000m altitude), Jizan, Makkah, Najran and Tabuk province.
There is no Malaria risk in urban areas of Jeddah, Mecca, Medina and Ta’if.
The Saudi Ministry of Health has recommended that the following groups of people postpone their travel is possible:
- People older than 65 years
- Children younger than 12 years
- Pregnant women
- People with chronic heart, kidney, lung disease or diabetes
- People with a weakened immune system
- People with cancer or terminal illness
Travel Health Kit
It is always useful to pack a travel health kit with essential medicines for common colds, diarrhea and minor cuts and bruises.
During your trip
Beware of what you eat and drink. Avoid street food vendors if you can. Avoid having ice in your drinks if you can. The ice may be made from contaminated water.
Where possible drink only boiled or bottled water.
Use insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites.
The climate in Saudi Arabia can be very hot and dehydration is a possibility. Always drink lots of water and remain hydrated.
Only go to official designated centres for head shaving. Ensure a new blade is used for your head shave.
Avoid swimming in fresh water lakes and rivers. Schistosomiasis is rare in Saudi Arabia but still present.
After your trip
After your trip, if you feel unwell in anyway, make sure you see your doctor and let him know of your recent travel.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)
To reduce your risk of contracting MERS, make sure you:
Wash your hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
Avoid close contact with sick people
The World Health Organisation also recommends people with weakened immune system to:
Avoid contact with camels
Avoid drinking raw camel milk
Avoid eating undercooked meat especially camel meat