World Cup gets health injection

WITH 78 days before the kick-off to the World Cup tournament, the KwaZulu-Natal department of health has said it is ready to deal with medical services.

MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo said: "For the department, the thrilling journey to the World Cup games started very early when all staff members had the opportunity to wear their Bafana Bafana jerseys on Fridays and to fly the South African flag.

"We understand that we have a moral obligation and historic duty to play a special role for the success of the World Cup."

He said mass gatherings represented 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 was ready.

Dhlomo said to date, the department had spent a total of R148million in upgrading and improving its services.

In particular, this budget has been spent on buying 125 ambulances, buying equipment for setting up casualty clearing stations at the stadium and at the official fan park such as tents, golf carts, screening equipment, construction of a new communication centre, which will be used as a medical operation centre for managing medical resources deployed in all areas of impact as well as receiving beds status in hospitals and conducting communicable diseases surveillance.

The department has also trained 21 emergency care technicians, 198 intermediate life support, and 34 assistants through Durban University of Technology.

"A further 400 staff have been trained on major incident medical management and support as part of disaster preparations," the department said.

The department is currently running an aero-medical service through the SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service with two helicopters and one fixed wing.