(MENAFN - Arab News) A contingent of health officials under the leadership of Dr. Tarek-Al Arnoos was commissioned Monday to look after emergency operations during Haj, the Ministry of Health announced yesterday in Riyadh.
According to Al-Arnoos, his team is composed of 105 doctors and 242 paramedics who will work in various places in the holy cities to help pilgrims get emergency medical treatment without loss of time.
The ministry has deployed 80 fully equipped ambulances and 55 mini ambulances to wade through crowds to treat and transport sick pilgrims. The mini ambulances, which are also fully equipped, are mainly meant for the holy sites of Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina, Al-Arnoos said, adding that there are some 25 ambulances and 10 more mini-mobile medical vehicles stationed in Makkah to serve the pilgrims in that part of the holy city.
Al-Arnoos pointed out that the medical personnel in his team were chosen from among experienced hands from various disciplines in all parts of the Kingdom.
They were all trained in emergency work to cope with various situations during the Haj season to treat cardiac, renal and hypertension, dehydrated and accident patients.
The official said the GPS-enabled mini-ambulances are fully equipped with state-of-the art medical apparatus to handle emergency and ICU patients.
In addition, the ministry has detailed a total of 13 ambulances at a strategic point in Makkah to move patients when there is a major emergency.
This year, the ministry distributed some 42 ambulances to all parts of the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. The ministry has also deployed a fleet of motorcycles to reach emergency patients in places where regular vehicles cannot find their way due to congestion.
Last year, he recalled, a total of 2,500 patients were ferried to various clinics and hospitals with the help of these mobile vehicles, and the medical team treated more than 15,000 pilgrims who needed emergency treatment.
Al-Arnoos explained that 24 medical teams supervised by eight doctors would work round the clock to serve patients in Makkah. In the Jamrat area, he said there are 17 health clinics and 12 medical teams to supervise the whole movement of pilgrim traffic in the stoning area.
His ministry had a coordinated contingency plan in case of natural calamities such as floods and earth slips.
Earlier in a statement, Health Minister Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah stressed the importance of unifying the efforts of all health sectors participating in this year's Haj to provide integrated health care services to the guests of Allah.
"According to the directives of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, we are dedicated to provide the best of services to the guests of Allah."
According to the minister, the committee also coordinates with other ministries that are connected with the maintenance and operations of Haj activities in the holy areas. Al-Rabeeah said the functions of the Haj committees are interlinked through an electronic network to ensure integrated health care services.
"The sick should be transported to the nearest Haj facility without loss of time," Al-Rabeeah said, adding that the ministry should make use of the ambulances available at all strategic points within the holy cities. He indicated the casualties among pilgrims would include victims of accidents, food poisoning and fatigue due to congestion.
The ministry recruited more than 20,000 people from various medical, technical and administrative categories for Haj. There are 441 medics in rare medical disciplines including intensive care, breathing catheter and treatment as well as nursing intensive care and emergencies.
As a preventive measure against all epidemic diseases, the ministry has deployed officials at all 14 ports of entry to monitor the health condition of pilgrims. These officials ensure pilgrims have taken the necessary vaccinations, and those who have not taken the vaccinations will be given the relevant shots at the ports of entry, so that they could be protected against contagious diseases.
This year, the ministry is focusing on food poisoning. Pilgrims have been asked not to keep their cooked food for more than two hours to avoid food poisoning. They have also been requested to wash fruits and green leaves before consumption. Meat and vegetables should not be washed together when preparing to cook.
Personal hygiene and hygienic cooking, storing, transporting and serving methods are important to avoid diarrhea and vomiting, food poisoning, dysentery, typhoid and cholera. Hands should be washed before eating. Disposable shaving kits should be used.
Wearing masks made of cloth during the performance of various Haj rituals will be very useful in preventing respiratory infections such as colds, coughs, sore throats and pneumonia.
Covering the face with a towel while sleeping in congested rooms also helps prevent respiratory infections.
Diagnosed cases of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, arthritis, migraine, epilepsy, skin diseases, psychiatric illnesses, and gastric ulcer should be properly controlled with appropriate treatment.