Elsevier, the world's leading provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services, announced today that the Saudi Ministry of Health has published its 2011 health conditions for travelers to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj). The publication, published in the August Issue of Journal of Infection and Public Health (JIPH), informs visitors of the full requirements for entry into Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi Ministry of Health plays a critical role in the management of the annual Hajj pilgrimage which occurs over a five-day period during "Dhul-Hijjah," the final month of the Islamic calendar and is the world's largest annual mass gathering, attracting 2-3 million pilgrims every year.
Travelers are urged to read the guidelines in their entirety, the highlights of which are as follows:
- Yellow Fever: All travelers arriving from countries or areas at risk of yellow fever must present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate showing that the person was vaccinated at least 10 days previously and not more than 10 years before arrival at the border.
- Meningococcal Meningitis: Visitors arriving for the purpose of Umra or pilgrimage or for seasonal work are required to produce a certificate of vaccination with the quadrivalent (ACYW135) vaccine against meningitis issued not more than 3 years previously and not less than 10 days before arrival in to Saudi Arabia.
- Poliomyelitis: All travelers arriving from polio-endemic countries and re-established transmission countries should receive 1 dose of OPV.
- Seasonal Influenza: International pilgrims should be vaccinated against seasonal influenza before arrival into Saudi Arabia with WHO approved strains specific to the northern or southern hemispheres. In Saudi Arabia, seasonal influenza vaccine is recommended for internal pilgrims, particularly those with pre-existing health conditions, and all staff working in the Hajj premises.
- Health Education: Health authorities in countries of origin are required to provide information to pilgrims on infectious diseases symptoms, methods of transmission, complications, and means of prevention.
- Food: Hajj and Umra performers are not allowed to bring fresh food in to Saudi Arabia. Only properly canned or sealed food or food stored in containers with easy access for inspection is allowed in small quantities, sufficient for one person for the duration of his or her trip.
- International Outbreaks Responses: Updating immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases in all travelers is strongly recommended.
"The Department of Preventive Medicine at the Ministry of Health develops and updates these guidelines every year in close coordination with the International Health Regulations Coordination Department at WHO. This is carried out after critical review of the global situation of endemic and emerging communicable diseases, to ensure the establishment of evidence based guidelines to protect and prevent disease transmission among pilgrims and the global community," stated His Excellency Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah, Saudi Minister of Health. "These guidelines are then disseminated through the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs to all the countries and enforced through the respective Royal Saudi Embassy in each country of origin and checked at all ports of entry into Saudi Arabia by Ministry of Health Preventive Medicine staff."
The full article, Health conditions for travelers to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) 1432 (2011), is authored by Ziad A. Memish and Abdullah A. Al Rabeeah, with the Saudi Ministry of Health, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Journal of Infection and Public Health Volume 4, Issue 3, August 2011, Pages 105-107, doi:10.1016/j.jiph.2011.07.001