2010 healthcare must be tops
Johannesburg - South Africa has to position itself as a destination of choice for medical healthcare ahead the 2010 Fifa World Cup, Deputy Health Minister Molefi Sefularo said on Thursday.
"It is a wave that you will all have to catch," he said at the South African health tourism conference at the Sandton Convention Centre.
"The management and co-ordination of infectious disease importation, including emerging and re-emerging infections, needs centralised leadership."
He said diseases like swine flu (H1N1), bird flu, Congo fever, polio, and extremely drug resistant tuberculosis needed central control and management.
"The health tourism industry should work with the national department of health in managing these areas."
Sefularo said in a statement that this approach was important for communication, security, integrated disease response and intervention
He explained that the 2010 World Cup would see an improved collaboration between the public and private sectors in responding to the needs of visitors.
Task team already operating
A health technical task team, consisting of 15 expert working groups, was already operating ahead of the World Cup.
The group would focus on various areas such as emergency medical services, communicable diseases, environmental health, port health, stadia, provision of primary health care and establishment of command and control points.
"Our emergency medical services (EMS) has demonstrated that they are able to respond to the needs of global events such as the recent Fifa Confederations Cup.
"The event provided us with invaluable experience. There is no doubt that this experience will contribute vastly to ensuring that a world-class health and medical service is provided for 2010 participants," he said.
The deputy minister said the South African National Defence Force would also provide back-up in emergencies
In addition, the South African Red Cross society would assist in aero-medical transportation.
"We will create an environment that would make people want to keep coming back to our country," said Sefularo
The key objective of the congress, involving about 300 delegates, was to form a health-tourism cluster.