FIFA’s Chief Medical Officer Prof. Jiří Dvořák recently visited Papua New Guinea to assess the progress of medical-related preparations for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup which will be held in the country from 13 November to 3 December 2016. It was an opportunity to gather information regarding the health situation in the region and the condition of medical facilities as well as to initiate discussions with the authorities for the future implementation of FIFA’s global health initiative “FIFA 11 for Health”.

During his visit, Prof. Dvořák met the father of Papua New Guinean independence, Sir Michael Somare, the Minister of Sport and Tourism, Hon. Justin Tkatchenko and the Governor of Port Moresby, Mr Powes Parkop. The representatives of Port Moresby and the government guaranteed their full support in ensuring a successful competition later this year.

At the conclusion of the five-day visit, Dvořák’s feedback was very positive: “The medical facility which will serve during the FIFA competition is a state-of-the-art hospital, offering all diagnostic and therapeutic procedures including the majority of surgical interventions. In the event of medical emergencies, the emergency system is well developed and fully available to serve the competition. The LOC medical staff will work in partnership with the FIFA Venue Medical Officers and are well trained.”

The FIFA medical team will inform all team doctors participating in the competition about details regarding the prevention of communicable diseases and about the available medical services. As malaria is present in Papua New Guinea, the city authorities in Port Moresby will take all precautions to eliminate stagnant waters, which are the breeding grounds of mosquitos.

Dvořák also took the opportunity to participate in a key public initiative, the Walk for Life campaign, in which the Governor of Port Moresby guides a walk of approximately 10km through the city while providing health messages on preventing communicable and non-communicable diseases. Almost 35,000 people participated in this particular walk.

“It was an unforgettable experience and an example of an active city,” Dvořák said. “The background and the philosophy of the governor and the Ministry of Sport and Tourism complements the ‘FIFA 11 for Health’ programme and is most fitting. We will start discussions with the authorities with a view to initiating the implementation of our global health campaign ‘FIFA 11 for Health’ prior to the opening match of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.”

In his discussions with the authorities, Prof. Dvořák also stressed that the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea should also be used to support one of FIFA’s key objectives, to develop women’s football and women in football. The LOC and FIFA will work together to bring about cultural change regarding the role of women in Papua New Guinean society and to ensure that efforts and projects are put in place to reduce violence against women and girls in the country.