History of Army Medical Corps
Second World War was responsible for rapid developments. The idea of having a homogeneous corps by amalgamating Indian Medical Services and Indian Medical Department gradually took shape and Indian Army Medical Corps (IAMC) came into being on 3rd of April 1943. After Independence of the country, the Corps has made a steady progress. The men enjoy combatant status. The post of Director General Armed Forces Medical Services was created in 1949 as coordinating head of the med services of the Army, Navy and Air Force. With the formation of the IAMC the Medical Training Centre was further re-organised. The intake of the trainees was raised from 150 to 450. The IAMC was re-designated as Army Medical Corps with effect from 26th of January 1950.
On 1st of January, 1764, the medical officers, then serving in Bengal, were grouped into a regular medical establishment called the Bengal Medical Service. Similar organisations were set up in Bombay (now Mumbai) and Madras (now Chennai) also. The Royal commission was appointed in 1859, to enquire into the sanitary conditions in the army. Stringent measures were taken to improve matters and by 1879 the death rate had been brought down to 19 per 1000 and by 1892 it was only 15. Towards that end barracks were constructed and sanitary conditions near camps and cantonments were improved. The medical services of the three Presidency armies were integrated into one Indian Medical Service. Medical officers though primarily responsible for the medical care of the army were also made available for other posts in the country where scientific knowledge was required. Army medical officers were also posted to extra-professional appointments such as cotton agents, commissions, superintendents of schools of arts, conservators of forests, political agents, naturalists and posts and telegraph departments.
The employment of medical officers in such non-medical posts was, however, restricted as their services were required more and more for civil medical appointments. They were also made available for medical education and research, public health and administration of jails. Indian troops were looked after by the officers of the Indian Medical Service, the sub-assistant surgeons of the Indian Medical Department and the Indian Troops Nursing Service. The Indian Hospital Corps catered to the needs of both the British and Indian troops. The Indian Medical Service was mainly a military service. Qualified doctors were enlisted who after a tour of duty with the army were lent to the civil departments. They formed a reserve and remained so until required in an emergency. At the end of the 1914-18 war there were 681 medical officers in the service. Of these 150 were Indian doctors who held the King's commissions. The assistant surgeons in the Indian Medical Service were Europeans and Anglo-Indians and held subordinate medical appointments. The sub-assistant surgeons were all Indians who looked after the Indian troops. Though not registered they held certain special qualifications. The Indian Troops Nursing Service introduced since the war consisted of nurses who supervised the work of the nursing orderlies working for Indian troops in the hospitals.
Before the First World War there were no proper hospitals for Indian troops. Indian soldiers were treated in regimental hospitals which were poorly equipped. It was a non-dieted hospital and the patient had to bring his own food, clothes and bed except the items that were specially prescribed by the doctors. During the First World War hospitals were provided for Indian troops and later each cantonment had separate Indian station hospitals. All facilities were provided in these hospitals. The introduction of these hospitals meant a great increase in the number of Indian Medical Service officers. The Indian Hospital Corps provided the clerical and administrative staff. The field medical units consisted of field ambulances, casualty clearing stations, staging sections and general hospitals. Before 1939-45 war Indian Medical Service officers recruited in India were attached to the military hospitals. Military training was also imparted to them.
Services of Army Medical Corps
The service aims at increasing the battle efficiency of the soldier and towards that end is interested in increasing his powers of resistance to the various diseases. It concerns itself with every department of the soldier's life - the various conditions in which he lives or may be expected to live, the conditions and degree of physical stress and strain that he can undergo and the clothes and equipment that he uses. The medical services have existed in the army in some form or the other ever since the campaigning of the early days.
Army Medical Corps is now organised on the most advanced lines and has well earned the name it deserves. The army has its own hospitals which are some of the best equipped in the country. It has its own nursing services also that provide nurses for all military hospitals. During operations general hospitals are raised to meet the requirements in the field. All units up to a battalion level are provided with doctors on their establishment who accompany them on active service. There is also an organised chain for the evacuation of casualties from the field to the base hospitals in the rear areas. An Artificial Limb Centre at Poona provides artificial limbs for disabled soldiers. This facility has now been extended to civilians also. No tribute can be enough for these silent but efficient men whose main job is to provide succour and relief to the wounded and give them a new lease of life by providing them immediate aid.
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