Around 200 Short Service Commission (SSC) officers with the Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS), due for retirement over the next seven months, will get an extension till December 31 in view of the Covid-19 situation in the country, a senior Army officer said on Sunday.
Lt Gen (Dr) Madhuri Kanitkar, who is part of the medical team under the Chief of Defence Staff, said they will be deployed for Covid-19 management programme initiated by the armed forces.
“Short Service Commission officers of the AFMS who are retiring in the next seven months will be given a unilateral extension. So, we have around 200 such medical officers, who were to retire, we will continue to have their services.
“So, we are holding back these medical officers who would have otherwise left us,” Lt Gen Kanitkar, the Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (Medical) under the Chief of Defence Staff, told PTI here.
The orders for implementation of this plan are expected soon as the proposal is in advance stages of approval, said Lt Gen Kanitkar, the third women officer to have reached to the level of three-star general in the armed forces.
The other two were Punita Arora, who worked with the army and later shifted to the Navy, and Air Marshall Padma Bandopadhyay.
The SSC medical officers are granted commission in the armed forces for a tenure of five years which is extendable by another 5 years for those who are willing to continue subject to laid down eligibility criteria.
Lt Gen Kanitkar feels that the present Covid-19 crisis has taken every country back to the drawing board and rework their plans according to the age-old saying ”health is wealth”.
“I think we need to ramp up basic primary health infrastructure. In this kind of pandemic even countries with the best of the infrastructures collapsed. If we look that way, we have performed much better during the first wave of the pandemic,” she said.
Among the host of services launched by the armed forces include starting a website ”SeHAT” (Services eHealth Assistance and Teleconsultation) to provide assistance to the families of armed forces as well as ex-service personnel.
Having served during the Kargil war in 1999, when she was posted to the Northern Command, Lt Gen Kanitkar feels that today the doctors are frontline workers while soldiers are helping the medical fraternity in fighting the pandemic.
In addition, those retired from AFMS have been advised to help in their respective localities and the local army commanders can be their facilitator.
“Already senior doctors including a retired Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services have started providing teleconsultation to needy as well as to the ex-servicemen,” she said.
State government hospitals would be provided with Nursing Assistants, who have retired from the service, she said.
“Some of the SSC medical officers, who have recently retired from the armed forces, may also be roped in on a voluntary basis and used for Covid-19 management,” she said.