New rules in place to reduce haj pilgrim fatalities


THE Health Ministry has put new measures in place this year to monitor haj pilgrims’ health and keep them fit throughout the journey in an effort bring down high mortality rates among Indonesians performing the Muslim rite.

A total of 774 Indonesian pilgrims passed away during last year’s haj season. The figure was more than eight times the number of 2022 deaths and the highest since 2015. Government authorities blamed the mortality spike on the high number of elderly pilgrims and the extreme heat of the Saudi Arabian summer, with highs of up to 48˚C.

For this year’s haj season, the ministry is seeking to improve health screening and ensure better diagnoses and care for sick pilgrims.

“We’re now providing QR codes on pilgrims’ name tags that lead directly to their international patient summary, which consists of their name, date of birth, age, health history, vaccination status, medication history and allergies,” said Health Ministry haj health centre head Liliek Marhaendro Susilo in a statement last Saturday.

Indonesian authorities have also imposed stricter requirements for pilgrims with underlying health conditions seeking embark on the haj.

Aside from the regular health screenings, they must also undergo cognitive, mental and physical assessments, with scores ranging from 1 to 5 in each of a set of categories. An algorithm then determines whether a pilgrim is fit enough to go on haj based on their scores.

This year, some 241,000 Indonesians are expected to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. Nearly 45,000, or 18.5%, are older than 65. — The Jakarta Post/ANN

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