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Case Studies

Brazil aid

An international travel safety and medical firm is providing Football Federation Australia with medical assistance in Brazil. International SOS says that it has been involved in preparing emergency response plans, providing health alerts and also the identification and assessment of suitable hospitals and clinics in the cities where the team is
scheduled to play and train.

Dr Jeff Steinweg, Head of Medical Services at Football Federation Australia (FFA) said: “International SOS provides our doctors, players and delegates with peace of mind should the unexpected happen. Our International SOS membership gives us access to their 24/7 medical expertise and the confidence of having a plan B.”

In the last five years, the ten Australian national teams have travelled to over 50 countries, with the FFA responsible for the health and safety of all travelling players and support staff. Australia’s and the other finalists’ campaign begins in June. Dr Robert Quigley is Regional Medical Director and Vice President of Medical Assistance for the
Americas Region at International SOS: “International SOS Membership has given the Australian squad access to practical, perhaps critical advice and guidance ahead of the tournament. As we approach kick-off we will continue to offer them medical expertise whenever required, using the detailed knowledge our teams have of the healthcare infrastructure in Brazil. We certainly wish them the best of luck on the pitch!”

Dr Steinweg from Football Federation Australia added: “We do have medical support from the tournament’s organisers but we welcome the planning and assistance services provided by International SOS. On a previous trip to Bandung, Indonesia in November 2009, a player with one of the Australian national teams suffered concussion and was unconscious for two minutes. There was an ambulance at the match and it was decided there was a need to transport our player to a local medical facility. From the ambulance the team doctor called International SOS, who were able to provide a second opinion on the facility the player was being transported to, deeming the hospital suitable. The player received a CT scan and was managed well.

“The second opinion provided by the doctors in the International SOS Assistance Centre provided great reassurance to the medical staff travelling with the team. If a player is injured it is critical that it is optimally managed, or it can severely affect the player’s recovery and career. We take every precaution to protect our players as they travel abroad and this most certainly includes the games this year in Brazil.”

The Australian team – known as the Socceroos – will be based in the coastal town of Vitoria, north of the capital Rio de Janeiro. The team will play matches in Cuiaba, Porto Alegre and Curitiba, with some delegates from the FFA based in Rio de Janeiro.

Dr Quigley advises all visitors to Brazil need to spend some time thinking about how they might deal with a variety of medical issues, from minor complaints to emergencies. he says: “Many thousands of spectators will come from all over the world. Teams, spectators and VIPs all need to know: Healthcare quality varies considerably – and each region has its own challenges. Medical facilities in Rio de Janeiro may be world-class and many staff members speak English or other languages, but in northeast Brazil, visitors will find a more limited infrastructure, fewer English speakers, and less modern healthcare technology. Public healthcare in Brazil is universal and free for all, including travellers. But demands on the system often outweigh supply. Visitors must plan ahead. Obtain routine medical and dental care before you leave for Brazil. Obtain any vaccines, medicines and prescriptions you need long before the first ball is kicked.”


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