Health experts from the Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK (ABH), a national Hajj specific organisation, express their grave concern of the rapidly spreading cholera outbreak in Yemen which has exceeded 200,000 suspected cases, increasing at an average of 5000 a day. The world is now facing the worst cholera outbreak ever.
In just two months, due to this cholera outbreak, more than 1300 people have died – a substantial number of them bring children – and the death toll is expected to rise.
The Hajj pilgrimage is round the corner and pilgrims from Yemen will be joining over 2 million pilgrims from around the world in Makkah, Saudi Arabia in order to perform their pilgrimage in few weeks time.
Health experts from ABH strongly urge the prospective Hajj/Umrah pilgrims and the relevant health authorities around the world to take this issue seriously and make every effort in order to not only to protect the pilgrims, but also to eliminate the risk of the spread of these deadly infectious diseases worldwide, once the pilgrims return back to their countries.
It is extremely vital that the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO) regarding measures for the prevention of cholera should be strictly implemented. Every effort should be made towards health education and good food hygiene practice. Prospective Hajj pilgrims should be reminded of basic hygienic behaviours, including the necessity of systematic hand-washing with soap after defecation and before handling food or eating, as well as safe preparation and preservation of food. Electronic media and media should be involved in disseminating health education messages. All the concerned authorities are also strongly urged to contribute towards the social mobilization of this awareness campaign.
Hajj pilgrims have always been at high risk of contracting infectious diseases including meningitis, MERS Coronavirus due to their close proximity with millions of people from around the world. Prolonged contact with infected individuals within confined space e.g. sneezing and coughing on someone or sharing an affected person’s used utensil, facilitates the spread of deadly infectious diseases, which are transmitted by direct person-to-person contact via droplets of nasal or throat secretions as well as blood and body fluids of infected individuals, warn health experts from Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK.