Top medical team for 2010

A player is carried off the field during
the 2006 Fifa World Cup. Two stretcher
teams, each comprising a doctor and
four paramedics, will be required at
every match played during the 2010
Fifa World Cup. (Image: BBC)

Tamara O’Reilly

A select team of medical experts in South Africa has been appointed to advise the 2010 Local Organising Committee (LOC) on healthcare services for the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup and the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

The group of 10 professionals will work closely with Fifa chief medical officer Professor Jiri Dvorak, who has served in this position for four football world cups, to roll out Fifa and the LOC’s Medical Services Plan for the two tournaments.

“We are delighted and highly encouraged by the number of healthcare professionals who have heeded this call and the cooperation we have received from Safa [South African Football Association], the regions, the PSL [Premier Soccer League] and the clubs in this regard,” said Dr Victor Ramathesele, the 2010 LOC’s general medical officer. “This augurs well for our successful hosting of these events and achievement of our legacy objectives. We also acknowledge the outstanding support we have received from government, Fifa and the Fifa medical office in all our activities.”

The medical advisory team will be involved in the formulation of policies, protocols and operating procedures that will cover the provision of essential medical services in and around match venues and training grounds. The team will also ensure that 24-hour specialist and sport medicine services are available to all players participating in the tournament and that healthcare providers are trained accordingly. Training courses for all medical staff will be developed by the team.

Support staff

The advisory team will be supported by venue medical officers and Fifa medical officers who will be in charge of rolling out the medical plans, coordinating medical activities, conducting research and doping control services at each match venue.

Venue medical officers from each host city have been appointed for their knowledge of the cities in which they operate and their expertise in the areas of research, emergency medicine, mass-gathering medicine and sports medicine.

In addition to transferring patients to accredited hospitals, the support group will manage the two stretcher teams for the field, which each comprise a doctor and four paramedics. They will also work closely with fire fighters, paramedics and police who will be managing emergency medical posts for spectators and the media in the stadium. According to Fifa, there will be one doctor on standby for every 10 000 spectators.

“Knowing the high standard of medical care at the different South African university and private hospitals, I have no doubt that the medical facilities in South Africa already satisfy Fifa World Cup requirements. We still have time for improvement and will exercise our collaboration for the first time during the Fifa Confederations Cup in June 2009,” said Dvorak.

Doping control

Next to injury prevention, doping control is very important to the tournament and in this regard strict measures will need to be put in place to ensure Fifa requirements are met. Heading up the doping control services and infrastructure is Khalid Galant, the newly appointed CEO of the South African Institute for Drug-free Sport, and Dr Pieter van der Merwe, head of the World Anti-Doping Agency accredited doping control laboratory at the University of Free State in Bloemfontein.

“The Organising Committee has a legacy policy that seeks to ensure that football has sustainable gains that derive from the 2010 Fifa World Cup and related activities. With regard to health and medical services, and in close collaboration with Safa structures including the PSL, the committee has embarked on a campaign to involve healthcare professionals who are associated with football in most of these activities,” added Dr Irvin Khoza, chairman of the 2010 LOC.

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