Pretoria - South Africa's health system is more than ready to provide comprehensive medical services, including 24-hour emergency medical treatment and disaster management, during two of the world's biggest sporting events set to hit our shores.
"We are ready ...," Deputy Health Minister Dr Molefi Sefularo said.
Outlining the Department of Health's plans for the upcoming 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup and 2010 FIFA World Cup on Friday, Dr Sefularo said all essential health infrastructure would be in place in the host cities where games are to be played.
The key areas that the department was dealing with, include environmental health, port health, communicable disease control, health promotion, emergency medical services, forensic pathology, forensic medicine and biochemical.
Regarding the country's state of readiness in the context of the Confederations Cup, which kicks off in a few weeks, Dr Sefularo said the provinces hosting the games have reported a satisfactory level of readiness in each instance covering 90 percent.
"We have established control centres, communicable capacity is complete, Emergency Medical Services are ready as well as environmental health, forensic pathology, hospitals and port health," Dr Sefularo said.
He further noted that the department had not received any concern from FIFA suggesting otherwise.
"Generally we are happy with our progress so far and if FIFA wasn't happy about our progress or didn't have confidence in our ability to deliver, I'm sure you in the media would have been the first ones to know," he said.
The department has also scheduled provincial visits over the next two weeks to assist the provinces with outstanding issues and ensure that necessary steps are being implemented in order for plans to be effectively executed.
The last two preparation work group meetings are scheduled for 14 and 28 May 2009, with deployment starting from 30 May.
"We are going to be monitoring the host provinces very closely just to make sure that they tighten-up on whatever loose ends that may still be there," Dr Sefularo noted.
Chief Medical Officer for 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee in South Africa, Dr Victor Ramathesele, reconfirmed the organisation's satisfaction regarding the level of medical service.
"As the LOC South Africa, we've been working with the department as far as health medical services is concerned. We are pleased with the level of expertise by government officials in connection with the preparations plan," Dr Ramathesele said.
In addition, Dr Sefularo said the committee had communicated with the teams, especially those who will come from countries affected by swine flu, to obey vaccination requirements.
"Through FIFA, we have communicated with participating teams to vaccinate themselves and hope they'll heed to our advice," he said.