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Wristband wearing among pilgrims in Makkah, during Hajj, 1415.


Each year more than two millions Muslim pilgrims from diverse countries spend four days performing Hajj in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. For personal, national (language identification), and to provide important information on critical medical conditions, the Ministry of Health (MOH) introduced a wristband (WB) program for pilgrims. This study aims to estimate WB use among pilgrims during Hajj, 1415 (1995) and to assess knowledge of health workers regarding WBs.


Two Makkah hospitals and six primary health care centers (PHCC) were selected randomly and their health workers interviewed. Four hundred pilgrims in 40 camps in Mina were selected by single stage cluster sampling. Standard questionnaires were used to interview directors of the health institutes, physicians, and pilgrims face-to-face.


MOH clinics distributed from 10 to 680 MOH-WB's (mean 141, SD= 243). Physicians recognized the health status abbreviations most for diabetics (81%) and least for hemophiliacs (6%). Only 33% of PHCC physicians answered correctly as to whom they distributed WB's. Among pilgrims surveyed, 73% (95% confidence interval [CI] 68% to 77%) were wearing a WB; only 8% of pilgrims from inside SA had MOH-WB's, whereas 92% of pilgrims from outside Saudi Arabia were wearing WB's. None of the pilgrims from the Gulf States were wearing them. All pilgrims from Saudi Arabia obtained their WB's from a PHCC, whereas 63% (95% CI 58% to 69%) of pilgrims from abroad got their WB's in Saudi Arabia, through the ENEP which did not contain medical information. Of pilgrims coming from abroad and wearing WBs, 60% had obtained them from the ENEP.


Lack of knowledge on the part of physicians as to the purpose of the WBs may be reflected by the low percentage of WB use among pilgrims coming from Saudi Arabia. If the WB program is to be continued, physicians will need education about the WB's importance. MOH needs to promote its policy on standard WB information to the ENEP and to the pilgrims' original countries.