Mass gatherings medicine: public health issues arising from mass gathering religious and sporting events

Ziad A. Memish, Robert Steffen, Paul White, Osman Dar, Esam I. Azhar, Avinash Sharma, Alimuddin Zumla*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

134 Citations (Scopus)


Mass gathering events are associated with major public health challenges. The 2014 Lancet Series on the new discipline of mass gatherings medicine was launched at the World Health Assembly of Ministers of Health in Geneva in May, 2014. The Series covered the planning and surveillance systems used to monitor public health risks, public health threats, and experiences of health-care providers from mass gathering events in 2012 and 2013. This follow-up Review focuses on the main public health issues arising from planned mass gathering events held between 2013 and 2018. We highlight public health and research data on transmission of infectious diseases and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, mass casualty incidents, and non-communicable diseases, including thermal disorders. In the events discussed in this Review, the combination of a large influx of people, many from countries with outbreak-prone infectious diseases, with a high degree of crowd interactions imposed substantial burdens on host countries' health systems. The detection and transmission of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in pilgrims attending the Kumbh Mela and the Hajj raise concern of possible globalisation from mass-gathering religious events. Priorities for further investments and opportunities for research into prevention, surveillance, and management of these public health issues are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2073-2084
Number of pages12
JournalThe Lancet
Issue number10185
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
AZ is in receipt of a National Institutes of Health Research senior investigator award. AZ and OD are members of the PANDORA-ID-NET consortium (EDCTP Reg/Grant RIA2016E-1609), funded by the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership programme, which is supported under Horizon 2020, the European Union's Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd


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