With problems ranging from strokes to sore feet, there are many pilgrims this year who have the UAE's medical committee to thank for being able to complete the rituals, Haneen Dajani writes
MEDINA // Many pilgrims beginning their journey home will be thankful for the UAE medical committee's presence this Haj.
The medics treated more than 1,500 people with ailments ranging from heart attacks and strokes to bruised fingers, swollen feet and a request for multivitamins from a stressed-out husband.
Without the committee's help, many pilgrims would have been unable to complete their rituals.
Mobile teams treated five people who required hospital treatment - two for heart attacks, one requiring dialysis, one suffering complications from diabetes, and a woman suffering a transient ischemic attack, or mini stroke.
She required on-the-spot treatment before being transferred to hospital were she had two operations. She recovered soon after and was able to complete her rituals.
The clinic at Mina treated an average of 90 patients an hour in its busiest periods, while large numbers were also treated at the clinic in Arafat for conditions including diabetes, aches, fevers and shortness of breath.
The numbers seeking treatment ballooned after a crush at the train station, with 30 pilgrims seeking treatment, five of whom had fainted. One patient was transferred to hospital for high blood pressure and complications with diabetes.
An Emirati woman asked for calming drugs, claiming her sister had died in one such stampede. She said her sister had become separated from her group when she fell and was trampled.
But officials denied any woman had died, reporting only two deaths - an Algerian and a Syrian.
When pilgrims returned to Mina, the female clinic received at least three patients who had suffered strokes, which were blamed on stress and long periods of waiting.
Dr Abdulkareem Al Zarouni, head of the committee, said many pilgrims who suffered from chronic heart disease, diabetes and asthma had neglected to take medication on Haj, thinking they would not need them over such a short period.
"Such patients were in bad shape and suffered complications, so they flocked to the mission's clinics adding to the pressure on the teams," Dr Al Zarouni said.
Respiratory tract diseases also spread among a number of pilgrims.
Some complaints were unique. One man, aged 70, asked to be given multivitamins to ease his stress after losing, then finding one of his three wives in the Haram.