Health workers to be deployed to assist in Makkah

Friday, May 13, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will deploy 255 health workers for duty in Makkah for the Haj, with 128 of them having prior field operations experience in the Holy Land during the pilgrimage.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said these would comprise medical, pharmaceutical, nursing, healthcare assistants and spiritual care personnel who will assist Tabung Haji (TH) resume its Haj operations this year.

"Like previous years, the ministry's medical staff will help handle medical -related cases faced by pilgrims as well as operate health facilities while in the Holy Land.

"Following the risk of Covid-19 transmissions, the ministry this year will also supply at least 3,000 patient courses of the antiviral drug Paxlovid to treat pilgrims who are infected and suitable to receive treatment while in the Holy Land.

"Apart from the Paxlovid antiviral treatment, infection prevention and control measures will be enhanced to control the spread of the virus and other infectious diseases," he said in a statement.

Khairy said the government approved a funding of RM5 million which includes the procurement of medicines and medical equipment as well as airfare and allowances for medical staff for the Haj operations.

He also recommended that all prospective pilgrims, especially individuals aged 60 and above and adults aged 18 to 59 who have a clinical risk of severe illness, get a second booster dose before leaving for the Holy Land.

"This measure is to provide optimal protection against severe Covid-19 infection and death," he said.

Khairy said, based on latest recommendations by the Technical Working Committee (TWG) as announced earlier, those aged 60 and above can receive a second booster dose voluntarily within four to six months after receiving the first booster dose.

"Adults aged 18 to 59 who are at clinical risk of severe diseases (such as chronic heart, lung, kidney, liver and other diseases) may be offered a second booster dose within four to six months after the first dose, after discussing with a registered medical practitioner.

"Even so, the ministry would like to inform that the second booster dose vaccine is voluntary," he said.

Khairy also expressed his appreciation to TH for its cooperation, especially in relation to the selection of medical pilgrims.

"It is hoped that with our medical staff, Malaysian pilgrims will be able to perform their pilgrimage properly without facing any health problems," he said.

This year, the Saudi Arabian government opened the pilgrimage to one million pilgrims from all countries after it was delayed for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The haj quota offered to Malaysia and all participating countries has been slashed to 45 per cent of the 2019 quota. This means 14,306 pilgrims can perform their Haj compared to 31,600 in 2019.