THE Eastern Cape Health Department is ready to provide medical support during the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament and, in fact, was the first department in the province to announce its readiness, Health MEC Sicelo Gqobana said.
The cash-strapped department had received R3-million to prepare for the event, he said.
The department will take responsibility for spectators at matches while the Afcon local organising committee (LOC) and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) will organise medical support for participating teams.
The plan makes it clear that the embattled Port Elizabeth public hospitals will only be on standby to assist in emergencies, while doctors from district health facilities will be sent to the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium during matches.
Strict plans are also in place to monitor restaurants and informal food vendors within 1km of the stadium before and during events to inspect public toilets and test water quality, according to the department's action plan.
Three doctors, nine nurses and three health officials from the Bay municipality will be on duty during each event, with paramedics on standby and a total of 31 ambulances to be deployed, as well as two helicopters.
The plan also makes provision for the screening of visitors for yellow fever vaccinations and the vaccination of those who do not have the necessary inoculations.
Control at ports of access will also be intensified until February 20, with environmental health practitioners placed on standby.
Paramedics will also be on standby during team practice sessions at the NMMU Stadium, Westbourne Oval and public viewing areas, with a special medical centre being established at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Both Dora Nginza and Livingstone hospitals have emergency plans in place, but clinics and other primary health centres have been warned to ensure they are able to handle a possible increase in patients.