En-route medics for 2010 World Cup

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sun City - The Local Organising Committee (LOC) says plans to deploy medical response personnel on frequently used routes during the 2010 FIFA World Cup are underway.

LOC Chief Medical Officer Dr Victor Ramathesele told journalists on Tuesday that they were working with the government to ensure that incidents needing medical intervention are effectively attended to during the month-long tourney which starts in June.

"We have to provide services to the teams, but beyond that we also have to make sure that we can provide services to the spectators and everybody else. We will provide support during the matches and the public viewing areas.

"It is very very critical that we also have to ensure that on the road as people move from one point to another we provide services in that regard," said Ramathesele.

The Department of Health signed a FIFA Guarantee promising that the infrastructure of the South African health system - and, specifically, a comprehensive medical and disaster-management service - will be available in the host cities for the World Cup.

The health department's commitments include ensuring the availability of 24-hour comprehensive health and medical response and disaster management services for the duration of the tournament in different areas.

These include Emergency Medical Services, hospital services, port health, environmental health, communicable diseases control, health promotion, forensic medical services, clinical medico-legal and pathology services.

Ramathesele said they will be providing more than basic health services at World Cup stadiums, routes and fans parks. Special measures will be put in place to ensure that all international ports of entry, whether they are land, sea or air, are properly monitored in terms of health related issues.

"It's important to ensure that people do not bring diseases into the country during this critical time. We also have to ensure that we can manage communicable diseases, particularly seasonal flu and of course H1N1 [Swine Flu] as well," he said.

The Communicable Disease Control workgroup has developed a comprehensive plan, including factors such as national and international disease surveillance, public awareness information, outbreak indicators and strengthening existing disease outbreak policies and systems.

The 2010 Medical Volunteer Programme was also established to recruit volunteers with specialised skills in the medical fraternity to bolster the number of World Cup deployments.

South Africa's state of readiness was tested during the 2009 FIFA Confederations cup.

Meanwhile, FIFA say they are confident that South African health systems will be able to cope with the demand during the tournament.

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