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Travelling for Haj from UAE? Follow these health, travel tips

As many Muslims across Dubai gear up to embark on the annual Haj pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah, Dubai Health Authority (DHA) doctors are calling on pilgrims to get vaccinated and take other health measures, which will ensure that they have a safe and healthy trip. 

Doctors shared health tips with pilgrims during DHA’s “Sehatek Live”, which is a weekly online show, that gives the community a chance to share queries directly with the doctors about different health topics live on Twitter and Instagram broadcasts.

Dr Ahmed Saleh, Consultant in Infections and Head of Infection control at Rashid Hospital said, “Since prevention is better than cure, it is important for pilgrims to get vaccinations that will help prevent the spread of diseases while performing Haj.”

“Pilgrims must take all preventive measures that will keep them safe and healthy during Haj, which is why we advise them to take the necessary vaccinations that include seasonal flu and meningococcal vaccines at least 10 to 15 days before embarking on their Haj trips. These vaccinations, which can be taken at the authority’s primary healthcare centres will protect them from potential infectious diseases,” said Dr Saleh.

Dr Selma Eissa Hago Dawd, Internist Specialist at Dubai Hospital added that it is important to take precautionary steps ahead of Haj especially for the elderly and those who have chronic diseases.

“The elderly and people with chronic diseases should first go to their doctor who will evaluate their health before giving them the approval to travel. They must take all  prescribed medicine during the duration of Haj and take extra medication with them in case. They should also wear a bracelet or keep a card on them at all times with their name, contact number, health condition and medication in case of an emergency,” said Dawd who added that diabetics should not forget to keep their glucose measuring devices with them at all times along with candy in case their sugar level drops.

Dr Dawd advised all pilgrims to take a first aid bag with them that has precautionary medication including medicines for fever, cold, cough, diarrhea , painkillers and skin and muscle spasm creams. They should also carry with them cotton, gauze and a sterilizer. 

“Those going to Haj should also start exercising a month before for an hour a day to prepare themselves for the rituals that require a lot of walking. They should make sure to wear comfortable closed shoes that are a size bigger because feet tend to get swollen in the heat after walking for hours,” said Dr Dawd.

Due to the increasingly soaring temperatures, Dr Dawd also advised pilgrims to wear light cotton fabrics and avoid contact lenses as the heat and dust can cause eye dryness and irritation.

She added that the most common diseases that Haj pilgrims are prone to is influenza. To prevent this she said pilgrims should take care of their hygiene and wash their hands a lot. They should cover their mouth with a cloth when they sneeze and wear facemasks that should be changed every four hours. Pilgrims should also make sure to shave in specialized and licensed barbershops to avoid infections.

Clinical nutritionist at Rashid Hospital Dr Suhair Alia called on pilgrims to drink three to four litres of water a day to stay hydrated and to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables.

“Pilgrims should avoid eating medium to rare meats and make sure that their chicken and meat is cooked well. They should also avoid raw egg and fish.  They should avoid exposed food and rely on canned or packaged foods. They should also check the expiry date before consuming it and make sure the food is stored in the right temperature,” she concluded.

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