April 17, 2020 11:17:34 pm
As many as 650 medical officers undergoing postgraduate training at Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC) in Pune will be reverted to their units for provision of medical cover depending on the evolving situation of the coronavirus outbreak, Ministry of Defence said on Friday.
The Army set up the first quarantine facility towards the end of January at Manesar, where the first batch of Indian citizens evacuated from Wuhan in China were quarantined. Subsequently, one more facility was set up by the Army at Jaisalmer and one each by the Navy at Mumbai and by the IAF at Hindon. The three armed forces are currently operating six quarantine facilities for civilian evacuees from Italy, Iran, China, Malaysia and Japan. At least 10 more standby quarantine facilities have also been created at other places across India. As part of ‘Operation Namaste’ of the Army, procurement of equipment and supplies and also building capacities of medical formations has been on for extending assistance to state governments, ministry officials said.
On Friday, Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh conducted a review meeting on the functioning of Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) and its assistance to civilian authorities to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Ministry officials said training activities had been suspended at two key training establishments of the AFMS — AFMC in Pune and Army Medical Corps Centre and College in Lucknow.
“As many as 650 medical officers undergoing postgraduate training at AFMC will be reverted to their units for provision of medical cover 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,” stated a press release from the MoD.
An officer from Army Medical Corps said, “At present, COVID screening facilities have been created at all defence forces establishments across the country. There are functioning and standby isolation facilities at units across the country. Around 50 AFMS hospitals have been designated as COVID hospitals. These medical officers undergoing training in over 20 postgraduate departments in AFMC can surely add to the strength of doctors at the formations across the country.”
In the meeting on Friday, the defence minister was briefed about the above-mentioned steps. The meeting was attended by Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, Director General of AFMS Lt Gen Anup Banerji, Director General (Organisation and Personnel) for AFMS Lt General A K Hooda, Director General Medical Services (Navy) Surgeon Vice Admiral M V Singh and Director General Medical Services (Air Force) Air Marshal M S Butola.
Other subjects of the meeting included actions taken in terms of issuing advisories to armed forces personnel, providing assistance to civilian authorities for quarantine facilities and provisioning of hospitals and healthcare in the prevailing situation. Six testing laboratories have already been established with the help of Indian Council of Medical Research and are functional at various AFMS hospitals.
To cater to isolation and treatment (including ICU-based care) for COVID-19 cases, orders notifying 50 AFMS hospitals as dedicated COVID hospitals and mixed COVID hospitals have been issued. These hospitals have a combined bed capacity of 9,038 patients. Civilian COVID-19 cases would also be admitted to these hospitals as a surge capacity to augment state healthcare facilities, officials said.
A list of retired AMC officers and paramedics have been readied, who may be requested to volunteer for working at AFMS hospitals at their current home stations in case a need arises. As many as 43 officers and 990 paramedics have already volunteered to date. A medical team of 15 members has been sent to Kuwait, along with a PCR machine and diagnostic kits to help the Government of Kuwait in developing the strategy for handling COVID-19.
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