New Delhi: The Army has decided to postpone all mandatory annual and periodic medical examinations, conducted on every soldier to assess fitness levels, in the wake of the rising cases of coronavirus in the country.
In a directive issued this week, the Directorate General of Medical Services (Army) directed all commands to suspend the medical examinations of all ranks till 30 September.
The directive also asked for the suspension of review medical boards until further orders. Every person who is recruited into the armed forces is medically examined and those found unfit at the first stage are entitled to a review, which are carried out by the review medical boards.
Reclassification and release medical boards will also only be conducted in local hospitals, if possible, and inter-hospital transfer of these boards has been suspended.
The medical status of all service personnel is classified under five different categories covering psychological and fitness levels.
Reclassification refers to the review of a personnel who had been medically downgraded previously in any of the five categories, while release medical boards are held for personnel who are retiring from service to assess their level of fitness at the time.
However, the release medical boards for lieutenant generals will continue at the Armed Forces Clinic in Delhi, according to the directive.
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Furthermore, it notes, the reemployment board — conducted on those officers who opt for reemployment within the defence services after retirement — can also be done within military bases where such facilities are available subject to prior sanctions.
However, a one-time waiver for some of the boards may also be considered based on the coronavirus situation in the next few months.
ThePrint had earlier reported that Indian armed forces have revised the quarantine policy for members of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force amid their increased deployment in light of the ongoing tensions with China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.
Soldiers who return from leave or temporary duties, or report for a new posting, will now be exempt from the mandatory 14-day quarantine unless a clear Covid-19 infection risk has been established.
Suspension will ease burden on hospitals
The annual and periodic medical exams comprise various tests and are conducted on every soldier to assess their fitness.
While the annual medical examination is held every year, the periodic medical examination is a more detailed test and is carried out every five years.
“The release medical boards are crucial for those who are battle or physical casualties as the decision of these boards impacts the type and percentage of disability pension, the soldier would be entitled to,” a senior Army officer said.
The officer told ThePrint that military hospitals are severely burdened due to the regular testing of personnels, and the move to postpone these boards will reduce the load considerably.
“There have been instances where doctors and medical staff have got exposed to the virus and as a result some of them may not be available for work,” he said.
A second officer said since the Army was trying to curtail movement of personnel any way, this move will curb risk of infection to a great extent.
“Sending people from green zones to hospitals, where there are higher chances of infection, can be reduced by delaying the boards for the time being,” the officer said.
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