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International SOS encourages organisations to prioritise pilgrim health and safety during Hajj 2024 with vital precautions


International SOS prepares to ensure health and safety for Hajj pilgrims, emphasizing vaccinations, heat safety, and crowd management strategies for 2024.

International SOS, leading health and security services company, confirms its preparedness to ensure the health and safety of pilgrims during the Hajj season. The organisation encourages businesses whose employees participate in the Hajj pilgrimage to ensure their awareness of essential precautions for a safe and healthy spiritual journey.

The annual Hajj pilgrimage, a global gathering attracting over 1.8 million participants last year, is expected to take place in Saudi Arabia from June 14 to 19 2024. In line with the latest health and safety regulations established by the Saudi Arabian authorities, International SOS has developed a comprehensive guideline focused on ensuring pilgrims’ health, security and wellbeing. The guideline outlines crucial pre-travel considerations, including several newly implemented requirements. It highlights the official permit and vaccination requirements, heat mitigation strategies and promoting vigilance and awareness of the surroundings to ensure individual safety, particularly during crowd surges.

Dr Nosa Aihie, Regional Medical Director, Middle East, at International SOS, said: “It is important for pilgrims to adhere to vaccination requirements listed by the government of Saudi Arabia to protect themselves and their peers from various infectious diseases. This includes the mandatory meningococcal vaccination 2 , which must be administered no more than three years and at least ten days prior to the planned arrival in Saudi Arabia. Pilgrims are advised to carry valid health certificates confirming that they are free from any acute, chronic or infectious diseases. Furthermore, we suggest scheduling activities to avoid peak heat hours whenever possible and being adequately hydrated during Hajj, as pilgrims may experience heat-related illnesses and dehydration.”

Gulnaz Ukassova, Security Director at International SOS in Dubai, stressed the need for thorough pre-travel preparation and compliance with government directives, stating, “It is vital for pilgrims undertaking Hajj to thoroughly understand and comply with the relevant Hajj regulations prior to and during the pilgrimage. Pilgrims should expect large crowds at religious sites, particularly on the Jamaarat Bridge in Mina and around Al-Masjid Al-Haram Mosque in Mecca. Pilgrims must take precautions to ensure their safety during crowd surges, such as staying aware of their surroundings, adhering to designated lanes, avoiding walking against the direction of traffic and knowing the nearest emergency exits and evacuation routes. They should also anticipate and be prepared for potential travel disruptions and increased demand for various services during this period.”

Hajj 2024 health and safety guidelines for organisations and their workforce to ensure the health and safety of pilgrims:

  • Encourage employees undertaking Hajj to obtain vaccinations and health certification: All pilgrims are required to have proof of administering meningococcal vaccination. Ensure all routine vaccinations, including COVID-19 and seasonal influenza are up-to-date. Depending on their country of origin, travellers may also be required to show proof of polio and yellow fever vaccination.
    – Registration on the ‘Sehaty’ app is mandatory to verify vaccination status and facilitate entry into the country for all pilgrims.
  • Ensure compliance with regulations: Encourage employees to always follow guidance provided by licensed Hajj operators for a safe and organised pilgrimage. Ensure they adhere to designated time slots allocated by authorities to help avoid overcrowding risks.
  • Offer security briefings and heightened situational awareness: Provide pre-departure briefings on security protocols, situational awareness practices and cultural sensitivities. Develop contingency plans to address potential travel disruptions during the Hajj.
  • Educate employees on the risks of extreme temperatures: To mitigate the effects of potentially extreme temperatures, pilgrims should prioritise staying hydrated. Choosing lightweight and light-coloured clothing helps regulate body temperature and reduce heat stress.
  • Ensure crowd and emergency preparedness: Provide employees with a crowd management guide along with tips for navigating densely populated areas. Encourage pilgrims to save emergency contact information for police, ambulance services, embassy officials and local contacts on their mobile phones in case immediate assistance is needed.
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Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.

She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.