Book an air ambulance from Saudi Arabia in case of a medical emergency during Hajj: Medical Repatriation from Mecca

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After two years of suspension, Saudi Arabia has announced the reestablishment of the Hajj pilgrimage for individuals around the world. The Kingdom is allowing one million Muslims from all over the world to participate in the pilgrimage, which was suspended because of Covid-19. Hajj will begin on the 7th of July and will end on the 12th for healthy Muslims under the age of 65. 

Medical emergencies are common during this huge pilgrimage assembling thousands of Muslims. While free healthcare is provided for pilgrims by Saudi authorities during Hajj, long-term treatment back home may be more efficient. In cases where flying commercially is not possible, patients can opt for an air ambulance by Medical Air Service to fly back home. 

Hajj pilgrimage to recommence in 2022

The disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic had severely impacted Hajj for Muslims around the world. In a pre-pandemic era, every year for centuries, millions of Muslims used to congregate at what is considered to be one of the largest gatherings on Earth. One of the most important traditions in Islam, and obligatory for those who have the means, this religious event was suspended for international travelers as a precautionary measure against Covid-19. Reducing the number of pilgrims by half approximately, Saudi Arabia is preparing to welcome 850,000 Muslims from abroad and it has put in place various innovations to simplify the process. For instance, it has launched an online government portal for the application of visas for many Western countries. This is an attempt to deter fraudulent agencies.

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How is Saudi Arabia coping with COVID-19? Protocols for Hajj 2022

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, over 778,000 cases of coronavirus were detected in Saudi Arabia and more than 9100 of these resulted in death. While things are now under control, the Kingdom has announced some rules, besides downsizing the number of pilgrims, to prevent the potential spread of Covid-19. 

What are the Covid-19 regulations for Muslim pilgrims during Hajj 2022? 

  • All pilgrims must be healthy and under the age of 65
  • All pilgrims must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19
  • Pilgrims from outside Saudi Arabia have to submit a negative PCR test, taken a maximum of 72 hours before their arrival in the country
  • Pilgrims must take medical insurance to cover the costs of Covid-19 related treatments if needed during the pilgrimage
  • Masks are mandatory in Mecca's Grand Mosque and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina
  • Masks may be required in establishments such as hotels

Illnesses or injuries that are common during Hajj 

Besides Covid-19, due to the sheer number of pilgrims gathering at one place, several injuries or illnesses are associated with the Hajj pilgrimage, despite precautions taken by authorities. Due to the mass migration of Muslims from around the globe and the crowded space, diseases get transmitted easily

Some of the diseases or injuries that are commonly recorded during Hajj are: 

  • Meningococcal disease
  • Pneumonia, which one of the leading causes of hospitalizations in Mecca
  • Seasonal influenza, including cough and shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Tuberculosis
  • Cholera
  • Respiratory issues 
  • Traveler’s diarrhea
  • Cardiovascular issues in patients with pre-existing conditions 
  • Ischaemia
  • Complications related to diabetes
  • Heat injuries: Heat exhaustion/ heatstrokes/ dehydration
  • Trauma injuries from accidents, stampedes, falls 
  • Blood-borne pathogens resulting from the use of unclean blades by unlicensed barbers (E.g Hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV)
  • Skin diseases like Eczema, intertrigo, and pyoderma
  • Sores and blisters 

Healthcare for Muslim pilgrims during Hajj 2022 

During each Hajj season, the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia offers free healthcare services to all pilgrims. In previous years, it appointed 25 000 medical personnel, 25 designated hospitals and 155 permanent and seasonal health centers to provide treatment and care to sick and injured Muslims during Hajj. The health services offered cover various areas including dialysis, surgeries, cardiac catheterizations and even child delivery.

The focus is on digital transformation and the use of new technologies to facilitate the monitoring and distribution of health services for pilgrims. The introduction of new digital medical services is intended to revolutionize the way pilgrims are treated. For instance, the deployment of robots connected to 4G allows specialized doctors to provide remote assistance to patients. 

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Nonetheless, a recent study was critical of the logistics behind the provision of health and safety of pilgrims. The research identified information gaps related to the pilgrim’s health during Hajj, causing fragmentation and a lack of efficiency in the treatment being administered.

Diseases or injuries that may prevent flying commercially 

While the free healthcare services offered by Saudi officials during Hajj are of high quality enough for initial treatment during the pilgrimage, a return home is mandated at the end of it. While you can definitely extend your stay, all pilgrims must leave the holy site by the end of their visa or by the departure date set by authorities, unless approval for otherwise is obtained. This year, pilgrims are mandated to leave Saudi Arabia no later than the 8th of August 2022. 

Moreover, in case of an injury or sickness, patients prefer to be treated at home by their own doctor and to recover alongside their family members, the pilgrimage in itself being a long and tiring trip. The free healthcare services offered in Saudi Arabia being not ideal for long-term treatment, patients would benefit more by getting back to their home country where more effective treatment can be administered based on their previous medical records

Nonetheless, there are certain medical conditions that may prevent flying commercially. These are: 

  • A fever of over 38°C
  • Covid-19
  • Severe pneumonia
  • Tuberculosis
  • Respiratory problems that may be exacerbated by flying
  • A recent heart attack
  • A recent surgery
  • An injury which prevents you from sitting upright
  • Any contagious diseases

Note: While diarrhea or other gastrointestinal diseases do not prevent flying, they can make the experience of traveling very uncomfortable. 

Get back home from hajj in an air ambulance

Patients who have had a medical emergency during hajj and cannot fly back commercially can get back home in an air ambulance. These are medical planes that are fitted with medical equipment and can transport even Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patients. This implies that they can receive the necessary treatment and care en route and they will be overseen by doctors and paramedics who will be onboard the flight. 

The benefit of the air ambulances of Medical Air Service is that the aeromedical service provider uses the latest equipment to ensure the patient’s safety at all times. For instance, thanks to our neonatal equipment and pediatric incubators, even babies and infants can fly safely on our medical flights. 

Additionally, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, it has deployed isolation units to ensure that patients who are Covid-19 positive can fly back home instead of being isolated in a foreign country. Those who are Covid-19 positive but do not show any symptoms can travel on their own in a private jet. If you become Covid-19 positive in Saudi Arabia, the air ambulances of Medical Air Service are at your disposal. 

More benefits of booking an air ambulance from Saudi Arabia with Medical Air Service 

The benefits of booking an air ambulance with Medical Air Service are many since we strive to put the patient’s comfort and safety first. With Medical Air Service, you can enjoy

  • Air ambulances worldwide, even in the most remote locations
  • Free consultation sessions with our aviation experts
  • Equipment and specialist doctors according to your medical needs
  • Customized and transparent pricing 
  • Agents available 24/7
  • Assistance throughout the whole process
  • One free accompanying person, depending on the situation
  • a Bed-to-bed service 

Contact us for an air ambulance from Saudi Arabia

Following a medical emergency during Hajj, you can get in touch with our aviation agents to arrange for an air ambulance to get back home. Experts in the field, they are going to guide and assist you and they will design a free non-binding quotation for the medical flight.

Get in touch now