The holy journey to Mecca for performing Hajj or Umrah is considered to be among the five pillars of the Islam religion. If a person is mentally, physically and financially strong, then only he will be able to visit this place. But fulfiling this sacred rite carries some health risks if precautions are not taken.
Mecca and its rituals:
Mecca, a city located about 80 kilometres away from the sea area and there have been 20000 population recorded by this year. With this, there are numerous amounts of people who have given up on the spirit of Allah and perform Hajj or Umrah.
But something important is always lacking during this time, which is making people know about health and hygiene that needed to be kept at this place. The hierarchy of people has made the cutting of meat too often in Saudi and now there is an increased chance of heatstroke and dehydration, among other disorders.
The pilgrims, in addition to the crowd and the danger of avalanches, have to face the hostile climate of the Saudi Arabian desert, where the temperature during the day is very high and when the night comes the descent is very abrupt.
The Hajj, according to religious precepts, is the visit to the Kaaba building in Mecca and is a rite of some hardness. Muslims who want to achieve the reward promised by Allah – the salvation of Hell-fire to those who complete the pilgrimage must walk long distances through the desert, sleep in tents, wear the pilgrim’s habit (two pieces of white fabric without seams) and run seven times between the Saf and Marwa areas, along with other activities.
Heat: an absolute energy absorbent:
Regardless of the season of the year in which the Hajj falls, pilgrims need to acclimatise to the Arabian desert temperatures that, even in winter, exceed 30 degree C. Heat stroke and heat stroke are common and can be fatal. One of the studies cited by the authors of the article, collected more than 1,700 deaths during a normal day of pilgrimage, most of them related to heat.
The Saudi Arabian authorities, aware of this danger, carry out radio and television campaigns warning of the risks of prolonged exposure to the sun and place units where pilgrims can cool off. Men also have an added risk and it is that during the Hajj they are not allowed to wear their heads covered, which increases the chances of them suffering from heatstroke.
To minimize these risks, the experts at the University of Edinburgh recommend the following:
- Avoid spending long periods in the sun.
- Travel at night when possible.
- Cover your head during the day, who can, or protect yourself with an umbrella.
- Consume a lot of liquid throughout the day and always carry a drink.
- Increase salt intake to avoid dehydration.
- Avoid travelling on roofless buses.
- Although there are moments, such as prayer, that require Muslims to go barefoot, they should always carry comfortable shoes and use them if they can.
- Be attentive to symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, leg cramps, headaches, nausea, dizziness or delusions, because they are signs of heatstroke.
- The Hajj demands that men wear their heads shaved and, given this requirement, some try to do business by installing themselves as barbers on the pilgrimage route. If they use the same razor blade with several different people, something that is not uncommon increases the risk of infections such as AIDS, hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
- In the case of women, if they have menstruation they cannot perform Hajj because it is considered a state of impurity. Therefore, many women try to delay the arrival of the period by combining the contraceptive pill and daily progesterone dose, which can cause problems.
The basic first aid kit for this type of travel must contain at least strips, an insect repellent, antiseptic cream, and water sterilising tablet. With proper precautions, Muslims can obtain the reward promised by Allah without problems.