Level of hospitals' preparedness for a mass disaster during the 2010 FIFA World Cup Soccer in the eThekwini District of KwaZulu-Natal.
International mass sports gatherings like the FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) World Cup Soccer and Olympics can cause great challenges to local healthcare systems and emergency medical services. History has shown that disasters do occur during these events, whether on a small or large scale. Disaster Management Practitioners from the public health perspective widely recognize that poor planning and a range of other underlying factors, create conditions of vulnerability. These result in insufficient capacity or measures to reduce hazards’ potentially negative consequences. The eThekwini District has to be prepared in the event of a mass disaster. Pre-empting and planning for disasters will lead to the safety and security of our citizens. The aim of this study was to undertake a baseline survey (in a total number of eleven public sector hospitals) to assess the state of hospital readiness, medical preparedness, and emergency care in preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup Soccer in the eThekwini District. A general assessment tool in the form of a standard questionnaire, and a walkthrough visit with a checklist, was used to collect data. There is no previous study conducted at the eThekwini District to assess requirements for an international event in terms of a mass disaster. South Africa is a developing country, and this was the first time any developing country had hosted a sporting event on such a large magnitude thus there are no international standards on sports disaster management by any other developing countries to generalise to eThekwini District. The current disaster management operational plan that is being used for the World Cup is based on a United Kingdom integrated management philosophy tool. The study herein adopted a public health approach and incorporates the Yokohama Strategy within its tool along with the use of HMIMMS and MIMMS in the assessment of the clinical criteria. The perceived minimum requirements suggested by the hospitals and a Provincial Task Team, from the Provincial Health Disaster Management office, was used as a guideline. The study showed that although disaster plans and policies are in situ, there still exists a need for resources to be directed toward skills training, attraction and retention of healthcare professionals, revitalisation of emergency and theatre areas and the commissioning of more isolation units. The results of the study would enable the District Office to note any shortcomings and lack of resources in public sector hospitals. The study outcome would be important for the implementation of any strategic planning to aid the hospitals in preparation for mass disasters that may occur during the 2010 FIFA World Cup Soccer.