Coronavirus | Armed Forces Medical Services pitches in to combat COVID-19

Procurement of face masks, sanitisers, PPEs and ventilators was on smoothly at a fast pace: Defence Ministry

Updated - April 18, 2020 01:28 am IST

Published - April 17, 2020 05:43 pm IST - New Delhi

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, wearing a face mask, holds a meeting to review the functioning of Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) and their assistance to civilian authorities in containing spread of COVID-19 pandemic, in New Delhi on Friday.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, wearing a face mask, holds a meeting to review the functioning of Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) and their assistance to civilian authorities in containing spread of COVID-19 pandemic, in New Delhi on Friday.

The Armed Forces Medical Services ( AFMS ) has stepped up efforts to assist the civil administration in fighting COVID-19. As part of this, orders have been issued notifying 50 AFMS hospitals as dedicated COVID hospitals and mixed COVID hospitals for isolation and treatment, the Defence Ministry said on Friday after a review meeting on the Ministry’s efforts by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

“These hospitals have a combined bed capacity of 9,038 patients. Civilian COVID-19 cases would also be admitted in these hospitals as a surge capacity to augment the state healthcare facilities,” the Ministry said in a statement.

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Lt. Gen. Anup Banerjee, Director General of AFMS, informed Mr. Singh that following emergency financial powers granted to DGs MS and further down the hierarchy, procurement of essential health equipment such as face masks, sanitisers, Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and ventilators was on smoothly at a fast pace, the Ministry stated.

In addition, training activities have been suspended at the Army Medical Corps (AMC) Centre and College, Lucknow, and Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC), Pune, and approximately 650 medical officers undergoing post-graduate training at the AFMC would be reverted to units for providing medical cover depending on the situation. “In addition, 100 medical officers from recruiting organisations are being detailed to work in hospitals where COVID wards are being established,” the statement said.

A list of retired AMC officers and paramedical staff had been readied and they may be requested to volunteer for working in AFMS hospitals at their current home stations if the need arose. Forty-three officers and 990 paramedics have volunteered till date, it stated. Six viral testing labs had been established with the help of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) at various AFMS hospitals.

DRDO’s new products

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said in a statement that it had introduced new products to aid in the fight against COVID-19 — an automatic mist based sanitiser dispensing unit developed by the Centre for Fire Explosive and Environment Safety (CFEES), Delhi, and an Ultraviolet-C Light based sanitisation box and hand-held UV-C device designed and developed by the Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences (DIPAS) and the Institute of Nuclear Medicine & Allied Sciences (INMAS), both based in Delhi.

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