Special report: Thai Government Provides Hajj Pilgrims with Special Care

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Bangkok, 27 April 2015 – The Thai government has been supporting the Hajj pilgrimage among Muslim Thais, who leave for the Hajj observance each year. For the year 2015, around 10,400 Thai Hajj pilgrims are expected to travel to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage.

In order to ensure their good health and welfare, the Ministry of Public Health has offered special medical check-ups, as well as influenza and meningococcal vaccines, for Muslim Thais who will leave for the pilgrimage this year. These health services are now offered free of charge until August 10, 2015 in both Bangkok and the provinces. Muslim Thais usually begin to leave for the pilgrimage in August.

Public Health Minister Dr. Rajata Rajatanavin said that the Government attaches great importance to taking care of the health of Hajj pilgrims with international standards to facilitate their religious practice. The Thai Hajj pilgrims will be provided with a “health passport,” with records of their health status and a health certification. Three medical teams, comprising 42 health officials, will also be sent to provide medical services for the Thai Hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia during their pilgrimage.

Health care training will be arranged for them, as well, before their departure. They will be provided with knowledge about first aid and the prevention of various diseases. The objective is to reduce the number of illnesses among Muslim Thais participating in the annual religious practice.

Around 70 percent of the Thai Hajj pilgrims are from the five southern border provinces, namely Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat, Songkhla, and Satun. There are about 3.8 million people in the deep South. Among the five provinces, four of them – Narathiwat, Pattani, Satun, and Yala – are predominantly Muslim.

The Government is ready to facilitate religious activities conducted by the Hajj pilgrims, so that they will carry out their obligation smoothly and without any problems. Culture Minister Vira Rojpojchanarat said that the Religious Affairs Department had formed seven subcommittees to coordinate and facilitate the travel of Muslim Thais to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj pilgrimage.

He said that the Hajj quota given by Saudi Arabia to Thailand this year is 10,400 seats. Out of this number, 8,189 will be Hajj pilgrims and 2,011 Hajj operators. Another 200 will be allocated specially to the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center for those affected by southern unrest. The special allocation was in line with the resolution of the Hajj Promotion Committee of Thailand.

Moreover, Thai International Airways will arrange special flights for Muslim Thais in the deep South to travel to Saudi Arabia from Narathiwat and Hat Yai airports, in addition to normal flights from Suvarnabhumi and Phuket airports.