Armed forces to recall retired medics to work in Covid facilities: CDS to PM
New Delhi: Military medical personnel who retired or took premature retirement during the last two years are being recalled to work in Covid facilities near them, chief of defence staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat told Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a briefing on Monday.
This comes at a time when the country is reeling under a public health emergency and its health care resources are stretched to breaking point.
Medical officers who retired more than two years ago have also been requested to make their services available for consultation through medical emergency helplines, the PMO said in a statement after the CDS briefed the PM, who reviewed the military’s preparations to assist in Covid management.
At a meeting on April 20, defence minister Rajnath Singh asked the military to explore the possibility of utilising the services of vaccinated retired military personnel to help the civil administration and state governments to deal with the Covid crisis.
India reported 354,709 new cases on Sunday, taking the total number of infections in the country to 17.3 million till Sunday night. A total of 2,808 new deaths were reported due to Covid-19 on Sunday, pushing the total number of people who have lost their lives to the disease to 195,137, according to the HT Covid-19 dashboard.
The CDS told the PM that all medical officers on staff appointments at Command HQ, Corps HQ, Division HQ and similar HQs of the navy and the Indian Air Force will be employed at hospitals.
“The CDS informed the PM that nursing personnel are being employed in large numbers to complement the doctors at the hospitals. The PM was also briefed that oxygen cylinders available with armed forces in various establishments will be released for hospitals,” the PMO statement said.
The PM reviewed the operations being undertaken by IAF to transport oxygen and other essentials in India and abroad. IAF is making a significant contribution in the fight against Covid by transporting much-needed empty oxygen containers to filling stations across the country to tackle the oxygen crisis.
IAF on Monday ferried six empty cryogenic oxygen containers from Dubai to Panagarh in West Bengal in a C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft, with the airlift of six more containers from Dubai planned on Tuesday. On Monday, the air force also airlifted two containers from Jaipur to Jamnagar for refilling. The containers will be filled up and transported to different centres for Covid relief by rail or road.
Last week, IAF airlifted four such containers from Singapore to Panagarh, apart from carrying out several domestic shuttles. IAF is using a variety of aircraft for Covid relief including C-17, C-130J, IL-76, An-32, Avro, Chinook and Mi-17 helicopters, as previously reported by HT.
General Rawat informed the PM that the armed forces are setting up a large number of medical facilities and, wherever possible, military medical infrastructure will be made available to civilians.
“The PM also discussed with the CDS that Kendriya and Rajya Sainik Welfare Boards and officers posted in various headquarters in veterans’ cells may be instructed to coordinate the services of veterans to extend the reach to maximum extent possible including in remote areas,” the PMO statement added.
The armed forces and other wings of the defence ministry can play an important role in the fight against Covid, Lieutenant General BK Chopra (retd), a former director general of the Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS), said last week.
“They have the manpower, resources and discipline to provide relief in these hard times. The military especially has a culture of quick response, be it enemy action or natural catastrophes. It can do a lot to alleviate the sufferings of our countrymen during the pandemic too,” Chopra said.