Of late, policymakers in the Nigerian Army (NA) have bemoaned the shortage of skilled medical staff in the Nigerian Army Medical Corps (NAMC). This has thrown up the need for training of manpower to cover the observed gaps. So it was no surprise that penultimate week, Maj. Gen. Ikechukwu Okeke, the Corps Commander Medical, NAMC, raised the issue at a welcome address during the Corps training week.
Similarly, the Nigerian Army Medical Corps unveiled plans to launch what it terms ‘the NA medical doctrine’. The doctrine is expected to be a guide to how the Medical Corps should do things.
Maj. Gen. Okeke said, “There is a need to reappraise what we are doing whether right or wrong and learn better ways of doing them. Basic issues such as infrastructure/equipment maintenance, emergency preparedness, clinical process and attitude to work are sometimes bizarrely neglected.”
He also disclosed that the mental health policy is almost ready for publication.
“All these are aimed at putting the corps in a better position to provide quality care.”
The Corps Commander (Medical) further revealed that all categories of staff of various specialities have been drafted to perform trauma care or nursing roles due to the exigencies of duties.
Observing that every personnel privileged to wear the maroon beret must have basic combat casualty care training; he said they have identified some gaps in the knowledge and training of NAMC personnel which has been seen not only in combat causality care, but also the quality of care in NA medical facilities.
Okeke said that there is need for more personnel to be trained to provide care especially in the pre-hospital setting in the field.
Also, the Corps Commander said that a new directorate has been established at the headquarters in line with NA Order of battle (ORBAT) 2016 to enhance the quality of care in NAMC facilities.
On his part, Maj. Gen OA Ogunbiyi, in his lecture, “Enhancing Quality Healthcare in Nigerian Army medical Corps Facilities,” noted that poor infrastructure, skilled manpower, funding, attitude of healthcare providers and training are challenges facing NAMC.
Maj. Gen Ogunbiyi wants the Army Head Quarters, AHQ, to sustain the annual recruitment of skilled manpower through a special commissioning scheme.
“AHQ in conjunction with Headquarter NAMC should come up with a realistic annual medical budget for the NA based on contemporary challenges, improve and sustain the drug supply chain and enhance the quality of healthcare delivery.”
He stressed that provision of qualitative and accessible healthcare services to members of the armed forces was of paramount importance to the Federal government.
He further called for a change in attitude among NAMC healthcare providers and across all ranks.
Lt. Gen. Tukur Burutai, the Chief of Army Staff, speaking on the theme for this year’s training; “Enhancing Quality Healthcare in Nigerian Army Medical Corps Facilities,” noted that NA has commenced restructuring and reequipping of its medical corps facilities to guarantee availability of world-class care for the safety of the lives of troops and effectively handle emergencies.
According to Lt. Gen. Burutai, the safety of the lives of troops is paramount, especially when they need to be admitted in the hospitals for treatment
He revealed the army has already started the refurbishing of facilities, especially in the tertiary hospitals.
The Chief of Army Staff also disclosed that the hospitals can now boast of diagnostic equipment like a mammogram, CT scan, MRI and others as well as ultramodern theatre facilities for the management of surgical cases.
Represented by Maj.-Gen. Enebong Udoh, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, he explained that the move was also to reduce medical tourism.
Burutai expressed optimism that the training week, said the training week was to reposition the Nigerian Army Medical Corps to deliver health care services in a more robust manner.
His words, “Nigeria Army is faced with security challenges that have put a high demand on human and material resources. To surmount these challenges requires that medical professionals should be well-trained and competent. All efforts, therefore, be geared at reducing the effects of sicknesses and injuries in the battlefield through an efficient causality management system.
Following the huge investment being made to upgrade the facilities, medical personnel are expected to be capable of handling newer sophisticated equipment and maintain them, he added.
“I expect a more positive attitude in your care of patients and facilities placed at your disposal. It is for this reason that I appointed a monitoring and evaluation team to see that standards are maintained in the hospitals. I expect that you will make use of his findings to improve the quality of care in your facilities.”