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HomeSaudi ArabiaHajj heatstroke, deaths fall with Kingdom’s protection measures: File

Hajj heatstroke, deaths fall with Kingdom’s protection measures: File


RIYADH: Heat-related deaths and strokes during the Hajj have fallen by 47.6 and 74.6 percent respectively over a 40-year period because of the interventions by the Saudi Arabia government, according to a study published in May this year.

The study, titled “Escalating climate-related health risks for Hajj pilgrims to Mecca,” was conducted under the auspices of the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

The interventions of the government have been effective despite the rise in temperatures in Makkah of 0.4 degrees Celsius per decade, the study found.


Umbrellas distributed by various agencies and institutions have also helped mitigate the health risks posed by high temperatures on pilgrims. (File photo)

The study, published in the Journal of Travel Medicine, examined the relationship between the increase in ambient temperatures during the Hajj season and health conditions. 

The measures taken to mitigate heat-related health risks for pilgrims include the use of mist fans to cool the air in open spaces, the SPA quoted the report as saying.

The government also distributes water and umbrellas; and there are now airconditioned transport options available, including the Mashaer train at the holy sites since 2010. 

The Kingdom has run awareness campaigns along with access to free healthcare services during the Hajj, the report added.


Aerial view of the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh. (SPA)

The report found that the government has instituted long-term measures including integrating environmental engineering and building design strategies to improve natural ventilation and reduce temperatures at the holy sites.

There has been an increase in shaded spaces, and efforts have been made to reduce overcrowding. 

Considering that the annual Hajj attracts millions of pilgrims from more than 180 countries, the KFSHRC study “holds enormous scientific value for planning and improving the response to the increasing temperature rise around the world.”

The KFSHRC is the top-ranked medical brand in the Middle East and North Africa for the second year in a row, and 20th globally, according to Brand Finance.

 It has also been ranked among the best 250 hospitals in the world by Newsweek magazine.

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