South Africa Prepares Health Systems For World Cup Disaster — But Could Be Overwhelmed

The Associated Press: South Africa is attempting to prepare its emergency services in case of a disaster at the World Cup, which begins next week. "But the public system won't have to cope alone, the chief medical officer for local tournament organizers said in an interview this week. Dr. Victor Ramathesele outlined plans for what he said would be unprecedented coordination between the public system, the military and the private sector in case of emergency during Africa's first World Cup." The country has 5.7 million estimated to be living with HIV, has a high infant mortality rate and recently had a major hospital rely on generator power after a theft of power wires. Ramathesele said that the "same beleaguered public system has coped with disasters in the past. ... In 2001, more than 40 people were killed in a stampede before a match between local soccer teams at Johannesburg's Ellis Park, one of the stadiums that will host World Cup matches." There are no specific terror threats against the World Cup, officials say, but public health officials are also readying for major traffic accidents, stampedes and other disasters (Bryson, 6/4).

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