Nigeria Army Begins Upgrade Of Medical Corps, Facilities

Panel of discussants Left to right: Major Gen. O. A Ogunbiyi (rtd) keynote speaker, Brig. Gen. A Dada, Chief Medical Director 68NARHY, Maj. Gen. Ameh (rtd) and Brig Gen IU Babangida (rtd). Inset: Maj Gen Udoh General Officer Commandinding 81 Division Nigerian Army (lt)

....Says It Wants To Meet Quality Healthcare Demands, Emergencies

Chioma Umeha

In view of growing demand on human and material resources on the Nigerian Army(NA) to meet security challenges has embarked, 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.
Lt. Gen. Tukur Burutai, the Chief of Army Staff, revealed this during the opening ceremony of its 2018 Nigerian Army Medical Corps Training Week, with the theme: “Enhancing Quality Healthcare in Nigerian Army Medical Corps Facilities.”
Burutai noted that the safety of the lives of troops is paramount, especially when they need to be admitted in the hospitals for treatment
He disclosed the army has already started the refurbishing of facilities, especially in the tertiary hospitals.
The Chief of Army Staff also announced 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 said 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.
“NA 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.
He said in view of the huge investment being made to upgrade the facilities, medical personnel are expected to be capable of handling newer sophisticated equipment and maintain them.
“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.”
Giving his welcome address, Maj. Gen. Ikechukwu Okeke, the Corps Commander Medical, NAMC, who bemoaned the shortage of medical personnel disclosed that all categories of staff of various specialities have been called upon to perform trauma care or nursing roles due to the exigencies of duties.
Noting 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.
“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.”
Okeke said that following insufficient number of doctors and nurses, there is need for more personnel to be trained to provide care especially in the pre-hospital setting in the field.
“As part of my effort to enhance the quality of care in NAMC facilities, a new directorate has been established at the headquarters in line with NA Order of battle, ORBAT 2016.
“The Corps is in the final stages of producing the NA medical doctrine as a guide to how we should do things and 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.”
Maj. Gen OA Ogunbiyi, in his lecture, “Enhancing Quality Healthcare in Nigerian Army medical Corps Facilities,” identified poor infrastructure, skilled manpower, funding, the attitude of healthcare providers and training as challenges facing NAMC.
Ogunbiyi recommended that the Army Head Quarters, AHQ, should sustain the annual recruitment of skilled manpower via 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.”
While insisting that provision of qualitative and accessible healthcare services to members of the armed forces was of paramount importance to the Federal government, he called for attitudinal among NAMC healthcare providers and across all ranks.