Health experts from the Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK (ABH), a National Hajj/Umrah specific organisation in the UK, have expressed their concern regarding the spread of lethal and deadly infectious diseases which have emerged as serious threats to over two million pilgrims from around the world who would be converging to Makkah in September 2015 for this year’s annual Hajj pilgrimage.

Hajj pilgrims have always been vulnerable and at high risk of contracting lethal infectious diseases due to crowded conditions at religious congregations, accommodation sites, and on public transport. Prolonged contact with infected individuals within confined space, during the Hajj pilgrimage, facilitates the spread of infectious diseases, which are transmitted through direct person-to-person contact by sneezing and coughing on someone or sharing an affected person’s used utensils.

Regrettably, some of the countries are not taking the issue of the spread of these infectious diseases seriously and appropriate initiatives have not been witnessed to educate the prospective pilgrims about the preventive measures to avoid contracting these diseases. Health experts warn that due to lack of awareness of preventive measures against these infectious diseases, a vast majority of Hajj/Umrah pilgrims are at a high risk of contracting them.

The Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK (ABH) strongly urges all the relevant countries that vulnerable Hajj/Umrah pilgrims must not be deprived off vital life-saving information about the preventive measures and how they should safeguard their health and wellbeing. All efforts should be made to implement the directives issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in which member countries are required to raise awareness amongst the prospective pilgrims of the risks of contracting the deadly and lethal infectious diseases, and the measures they should take to protect themselves.

“This awareness is extremely important 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 to their home countries”, said health expert in the joint statement.