Background: Makkah, Saudi Arabia, receives about three to four million pilgrims for Hajj annually. Many of these pilgrims are elderly and sick, and many have chronic medical conditions (CMCs) for which they take medication. The emergency department (ED) physicians working in Makkah have previously claimed that many pilgrims present to the ED because they need medications to control their CMCs. We aim to investigate the magnitude of this burden on Saudi Arabian EDs. Methods: We conducted a survey study among Hajj pilgrims during the Hajj season of 2018. Data was collected, which included demographics, CMCs, the medications taken for CMCs, did the pilgrims bring their medication with them from home, and, if not, the source for obtaining replacement medications during Hajj. Results: Of the 2402 subjects surveyed, 1953 were included in our study. Only 436 (22.3%) had a CMCs, and of those only 16% did not bring sufficient medication with them from home. We found that only 7% ultimately needed to visit the ED at some point. The number of pilgrims with CMCs who needed to be given new medication was 13.3%. Conclusion: Our pilot study indicates that approximately 20% of all pilgrims have a CMCs. Of those with CMCs, only 18% did not bring sufficient medication with them to Makkah, and many of these pilgrims presented to the ED at some point due to uncontrolled symptoms of their CMCs. The responsibility for dispensing medications to pilgrims for treating their CMCs was mainly shared by the MOH and the Hajj mission to which the pilgrim belongs.
Keywords: Medication compliance, Chronic disease, Hajj, Pilgrims