As the world’s second most populated country battles Coronavirus, more than 1000 retired Army Medical Corps officers and paramedical staff have volunteered to serve at armed forces hospitals again, in their respective home stations, as required.
The armed forces informed Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday that these include 43 officers and 990 paramedics.
Singh was also told that to help in the isolation and treatment of coronavirus positive patients, including ICU care, orders to notify 50 armed forces hospitals as dedicated COVID hospitals and mixed COVID hospitals have been issued.
These hospitals have a combined bed capacity of 9,038. Civilian COVID-19 cases would also be admitted in these hospitals to augment state healthcare facilities.
These developments were revealed during the Defence Minister”s review of the functioning of the Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) and their assistance to civilian authorities to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Approximately 650 medical officers undergoing postgraduate training at various armed forces medical colleges will be reverted back to their units for providing medical care depending on the evolving situation.
In addition, 100 medical officers from recruiting organisations are being detailed to work in hospitals where COVID wards are being established.
Lieutenant Gen Anup Banerjee, Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services, informed the Defence Minister that the emergency financial powers were granted to Director Generals of Medical Services and officers down the hierarchy. He said procurement of essential health equipment such as face masks, sanitisers, Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), ventilators is going on smoothly at a fast pace.
On a request by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Rajnath Singh was told, the three armed forces have set up quarantine facilities at six stations for civilians evacuees from Italy, Iran, China, Malaysia, and Japan.
Standby quarantine facilities have also been created at other stations. Starting February 1, these facilities have housed 1,738 individuals.
Six viral testing labs have already been established with the help of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and are functional at various AFMS hospitals.
The Army Medical Corps is currently providing medical cover to the quarantine camp at Narela, New Delhi where a team of six medical officers and 18 paramedical staff have been deployed.
Singh was also apprised about advisories issued to armed forces personnel, for providing assistance to civilian authorities in respect of quarantine facilities, and provisioning of hospitals and healthcare in the prevailing situation.
Appreciating various measures taken by the Armed Forces Medical Services, the Defence Minister directed them to extend all possible assistance to civil authorities to overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19.