Boosting pilgrims' safety with the latest electronic disease surveillance at the Hajj

In this Review, Professor Ziad Memish, Deputy Minister of Health for Public Health in Saudi Arabia and colleagues outline the latest real-time disease surveillance system that was recently piloted to successfully monitor and assess public health risks among the 5 million pilgrims from 184 countries during the Hajj 2012 and Hajj 2013.

The health-care web-based electronic surveillance system was introduced in 2012 to help officials respond more quickly and effectively to potential infectious disease threats. Hospitals, clinics, and medical centres in Mina, Arafat, and Muzdalifah that provide free medical care during the Hajj were able to rapidly relay demographic and health data to the operations centre in Makkah to guide further investigation and intervention. The new technology was successfully put to the test after MERS coronavirus was first discovered in September 2012. No cases of MERS infection were reported during the Hajj in 2012 and 2013.

According to Professor Memish, "After decades of managing millions of pilgrims who undertake the Hajj, Saudi Arabia is at the forefront of expertise in providing surveillance and health care during , and in 2012 established the Global Center for Mass Gatherings Medicine. This centre is a virtual research network of academic and institutions from around the world who will conduct studies to develop optimum recommendations for the prevention, management, and control of infectious diseases for countries that host mass gatherings, and to help strengthen global health security."

More information: www.thelancet.com/series/mass-gatherings-medicine

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Muslim hajj pilgrimage in focus amid MERS virus fears

Jun 29, 2013

Virologists are casting a worried eye on this year's Islamic hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia as they struggle with the enigmatic, deadly virus known as MERS which is striking hardest in the kingdom.

Recommended for you

Two US states order tough Ebola quarantine rules

14 hours ago

New York and New Jersey on Friday ordered a mandatory quarantine for medics who treated victims of Ebola in West Africa, after the deadly virus spread to America's largest city.

NY and NJ say they will require Ebola quarantines

Oct 24, 2014

The governors of New Jersey and New York on Friday ordered a mandatory, 21-day quarantine for all doctors and other arriving travelers who have had contact with Ebola victims in West Africa.

User comments