The 5th International Conference for Mass Gatherings was held in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia


The 5th International Conference for Mass Gatherings, was held at the Hilton Hotel in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, during October 29-31, 2023. The theme for this year was “Legacy in Global Health Security”. The event was organized by the Saudi Ministry of Health’s Global Center for Mass Gatherings Medicine (GCMGM), which is a WHO Collaborating Centre. Under the EU CBRN project P87, Mass Gatherings and Other Health Threats in Central Asia (PRECA), ISTC sponsored the participation of the National Focal Point from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Dr Faheem Tahir.

The conference was attended by experts from all over the world, and eminent speakers representing diverse organisations deliberated upon various aspects related to Mass Gatherings, encompassing different core areas. The Key Expert for Public Health Command Control and Communications (C3) in the PRECA team presented a detailed overview of the project that is being implemented in Central Asia by the ISTC.

The areas which were covered included Health Security Global Progress, Governance & Planning, Capacity Building & Assessment, Infection Prevention & Control, Supply Chain & Operations, Risk Communications & Community Engagement, Climate Change & Heat Related Illnesses, Laboratory Capabilities Biosafety & Biosecurity, Points of Entry & International Travel, Research Development & Innovation, Emergency Medical Teams, Surveillance, Case Management in Mass Gatherings & Public Health Emergencies, Immunization as well as Hajj and Umrah Model of Care.

The event was useful in highlighting the role of all areas, and brining about the significance of areas like travel medicine, in which there are a very limited number of certified specialists. The biggest mass gatherings like, Hajj, Umrah, World Youth Day and the Kumbh Festival of India, and the related preparations were also shared in the conference.

In this three day event, the participants were taken to the Global Health Exhibition on the first day in the afternoon, and on the second day a Gala Dinner was arranged outside the city with traditional Saudi Hospitality.

In short, it was an event in which experiences over the years were shared, that help better manage the Public Health aspect during Mass Gatherings from a limited to an unlimited scale and provided an excellent learning opportunity from sharing of first hand experiences.