Stress busting measures like granting leave, counselling sessions by religious teachers, yoga classes and a robust psychological evaluation and remedial action programme has helped bring down suicide rate in the armed forces by 50 per cent, said Air Marshal D P Joshi, Director General, Armed Forces Medical Services, on Wednesday.
Air Marshal Joshi, who is in the city to attend the 52nd armed forces medical conference at Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC), told mediapersons that a dedicated mental health programme was launched in 2008 to detect, prevent and manage stress among armed forces personnel.
He said the Department of Psychiatry at the institute has also been involved in the psychological evaluation and remedial action monitoring activity.
While giving a presentation on hospital projects in the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, Air Marshal Joshi said they were in different phases of completion and the latest technology and means of patient care were being incorporated. Various hospitals, including Command Hospital in Pune, are in the modernisation phase for which Rs 9,000 crore has been sanctioned, he added.
As part of the project, besides 47 CT Scan machines, an additional nine have been proposed in densely populated areas. Apart from the existing 15 MRI machines another nine have been proposed, he said. Schools of nursing are being upgraded to colleges of nursing while the Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) has also set up dental centres at high altitude, he added.
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Joshi said there are as many as 12 lakh personnel, 20 lakh families, 50 lakh veterans and their families, and one-two lakh paramilitary personnel. There are over 6,000 doctors, of which women constitute a major chunk, added Joshi.
He said medical care is provided in forward locations and apart from setting up underground Operation Theatres (OT), there are OT on wheels, automated shelters with oxygen plants, wards. The modern C-130 aircraft is capable of being converted into an air ambulance.
Highlighting its role in disaster management, Joshi said air evacuation capacity is good and a robust response was provided by personnel of all the three services in the Uttarakhand flash floods and during cyclone Phailin.
Joshi also spoke about the success of the Assisted Reproductive Technique Centres in New Delhi and Pune. In each centre over 500 babies have been born to infertile couples by using the technique, he said.
Meanwhile, as many as 249 proposals on academic programmes and coordinating research projects have been put forth at an estimated budget of over Rs 6 crore at the conference.