(MENAFN - Arab News) For the eighth consecutive year, the Ministry of Health is launching its phone-in service for Haj pilgrims. The service starts today.
The program conducted by the information center of the MoH is part of the ministry's efforts in its awareness campaign to minimize health problems among pilgrims, ministry spokesman Khalid Al-Mirghalani told Arab News yesterday.
The services will be available on toll-free number 800 249 4444. Ministry officials would also help pilgrims who need online advice on Haj matters through the ministry's website and on the social networking site Twitter @ saudimoh.
The service, "Saha Ziyufur Ar Rahman" - or Health for the Guests of Allah - will be formally launched in the presence of senior health officials of the ministry at its call center in the capital today.
The service will greet the caller with "Allah Humma Labaik" and subsequently divert the caller to a medical officer. The service in Arabic is available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m for three weeks.
"We have a team of expert call attendants who would give instant replies to callers who seek medical advice during their pilgrimage to the holy sites," the spokesman said. The medical team comprises consultants, cardiologists, medical specialists, pharmacists and dentists. The program is handled by a group of Saudi women who are working in the ministry and its city hospitals here."
The official said the "Hello Ramadan" program during the holy month was popular and he hoped that this service also would attract a larger number of pilgrims who wanted to avail themselves of the ministry's services.
"We assure all callers strict confidentiality of the information provided during their telephone inquiries," he said, adding that men suffering from chronic ailments such as diabetes and hypertension are free to ask questions about their dose of medicines and how they should store their insulin during the pilgrimage.
"Women can inquire about vaccines and matters concerning their menstrual cycle during the pilgrimage."
Al-Mirghlani, who oversees the program, said the project mainly targets local pilgrims to benefit families when they go on pilgrimage in groups.
"We have a special team of women consultants with whom the women callers can ask their questions freely."
He added that the ministry officials will also distribute each family a packet of literature and brochures concerning personal hygiene to advise the pilgrims on the precautionary measures to be taken during their stay in the holy cities. He said that the ministry is taking every effort to provide a safe and secured Haj for local and foreign pilgrims.
"The ministry is carefully implementing a series of health education program among the pilgrims to prevent the spread of infectious diseases."
Today, between 1 p.m. and 3 pm, Dr. Reem Al-Qarni, dietician from the Prince Sultan Humanitarian City, will answer question on diets recommended to patients and pilgrims during the pilgrimage.
On Sunday, Dr. Naila Abu Jedaie, specialist on chest diseases, will answer questions on respiratory diseases. On Monday, Dr. Monad Al-Awad, a gynecologist, will help pregnant women solve their health problems during the pilgrimage.
The center would host Dr. Khalid Al-Nimer, a cardiologist, on Tuesday and on Wednesday, Dr. Munira Bazara from family and community medicine department is slated to address questions from callers on epidemic diseases and how to prevent them during a mass gathering.
During this Haj season, 25 hospitals have been designated to serve the pilgrims in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.
They include four hospitals in Arafat, four in Minah, seven in Makkah, nine in Madinah besides King Abdullah Medical City, and other family hospitals. There are 5,250 beds in all these facilities.