Pretoria - With less than 80 days to go before the 2010 FIFA World Cup kick-off, the KwaZulu-Natal Health Department has assured the public that preparations for health and medical services are at an advanced stage.
MEC for Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, said the department has already spent R148 million on upgrading and improving its services that will enable the department to cope with demand resulting from the influx of tourists coming to watch the world cup.
"Mass gatherings represent significant challenges for health and increasingly so in the light of emerging global threats to public health such as communicable diseases, environmental disasters and the potential deliberate use of biological and chemical agents or radioactive material, the department is ready," Dhlomo said.
One hundred and twenty five ambulances and equipment for setting up casualty clearing stations at the stadium and the fan parks have been procured.
A new communication centre has been constructed to be used as a medical operation centre for managing medical resources deployed in all areas of impact.
The centre will also receive beds status in hospitals and conduct communicable diseases surveillance.
"The department is currently running aero medical service through SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service with two helicopters and one fixed wing.
"Hospitals have been assessed and designated to deal with different categories of patients from critical, serious to minor injuries or general illnesses," said Dhlomo.
The department has engaged the Nelson Mandela School of Medicine's Family Medicine Department to run an Internationally Accredited five day programme on emergency medicine.
The medical school will also deploy its registrars and final year students, who will be under supervision, to assist hospitals in distress as part of the medical teams for the world cup games.
Various courses, to deal with major incidents and disasters, have already begun in all hospitals.
"All hospitals have disaster plans and have started conducting disaster drills on a regular basis," said Dhlomo