South African Military Health Service

South African Military Health Service

The South African Military Health Service is the branch of the South African National Defence Force responsible for medical facilities and the training and deployment of all medical personnel within the force. Though unusual, as most national militaries integrate their medical structures into their existing service branches, the SANDF regards this structure as being the most efficient method of providing care and support to the SANDF's personnel.

Organisational Structure

The SAMHS includes active duty military personnel, civilian employees of the Ministry of Defence. In addition, the military employs roughly 400 medical doctors and private medical specialists are sometimes appointed to supplement the staff of the SAMHS.

The Surgeon General heads the SAMHS and has the rank of Lieutenant-General. The SAMHS operates three Military Hospitals; one near Pretoria, one in Cape Town and one in Bloemfontein. There are also four specialized institutes - the Institute for Aviation Medicine, the Institute for Maritime Medicine, the Military Veterinary Institute and the Military Psychological Institute. Together, these units provide comprehensive medical care for military personnel and their dependents, as well as the police and employees of other security-related government departments, and occasionally to neighboring countries. The SAMHS also provides extensive veterinary services for animals (mainly horses and dogs) used by the security and correctional services. The Institute for Aviation Medicine and the Institute for Maritime Medicine screen pilot candidates for the air force and for civilian aviation certification, as well as divers and submariners for the navy. The military's medical services also include general medical and dental care, and specialized rehabilitation services.

The SAMHS is organized into regional medical commands, corresponding to the army's regional commands, as well as a Medical Logistics Command and a Medical Training Command. The regional commands support military units, military base hospitals, and military unit sickbays in their region. The Medical Logistics Command is responsible for medical logistics only, as each service provides for its own logistics support. In addition, the Medical Training Command supervises the South African Medical Service College, the South African Military Health Service Nursing College, and the South African Military Health Service Training Centre, as well as the military hospitals' training programs. The nursing college, in Pretoria, grants a four-year nursing diploma in association with the University of South Africa. Specialized, in-service training courses for nurses and for nursing assistants are also available.

History

The Service was established as a full service branch of the South African Defence Force (SADF) in 1979 in order to consolidate the medical services of the South African Army, Navy and Air Force.

During the Apartheid era, the SAMS under Dr. Wouter Basson was responsible for Project Coast, a secret military program for the development and procurement of chemical and biological weapons, including poisons that the SADF could use to eliminate political and military opponents.cite paper
title=INSS Occasional Paper 37: Counterproliferation Series
author=Stephen Burgess and Helen Purkitt
publisher=USAF Institute for National Security Studies
format = PDF
date=February 2001
pages=15
url=http://www.usafa.af.mil/df/inss/OCP/ocp37.pdf
accessdate=2007-10-14
]

Rationalisation

Following the end of the Border War, it implemented several retrenchment measures in the early 1990s. It consolidated all quartermaster stores in the Cape Town and the Bloemfontein areas, relocated its training center from Potchefstroom to Pretoria, closed several medical supply depots, consolidated computer centers and systems, rationalized procedures for procuring medicine and medical equipment, discontinued survival training, and reduced or closed sickbays and military medical clinics that served other armed services affected by retrenchments.

The SAMS was incorporated into the South African National Defence Force on 27 April 1994, and was renamed the South African Military Health Service on 1 June 1998.

ee also

*Military history of South Africa

References

*loc


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