The history of medical services in the armed forces is as old as that of armed conflict itself. All fighting arms have laid varying degrees of emphasis on the development of their medical services, depending on the nature and significance of casualties sustained in their campaigns. In recent times, selecting the right kind of man for the demanding profession of combat flying has become critically relevant. Medical fitness for a flyer needs stringent standards because of the uncommon stresses and strains involved in this job. The flyer has to be keen of eye and ear, quick in mind and nimble in body. Undetected or untreated health problems in aircrew tend to take an incalculable toll of lives and equipment. The Royal Pakistan Air Force (RPAF) inherited the British system of medical services which comprised a directorate at Air Headquarters, station medical inspection rooms, a few flight surgeons' facilities, a small hospital at Faisal, a Central Medical Board at Chaklala and a hospital with a medical training center at Kohat. The staff consisted of a handful of medical officers and a small number of paramedics and little by way of medical equipment. In spite of these meager resources, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) medical services started providing effective health cover to the Air Force from the very start.
Medical Services play a very important role. It starts with the task of selecting the physically fit individual at the time of induction, putting in all endeavours to keep him/her fit during his/her career and providing all possible best care and treatment to the individual and his/her family whenever and wherever required.
Medical standards are laid down for the selection of officers and enlisted personnel, varying with the requirements of the branch or the trade into which entry is sought. Once a candidate joins the service, he or she needs to maintain the same degree of fitness to progress in the chosen career.
According to the regulations for Medical Service of the Armed Forces, civilian employees of the PAF are also entitled to free medical treatment. The families of employees above grade five are allowed to have out-patient facilities only. Although the families of civilian employees in grade one to four are not entitled to out-patient facilities at service hospitals, yet the PAF continues to provide them with free consultation and treatment. This also includes dispensation of free medicines within the range of available non-public funds.
Civilian non-entitled patients are provided diagnostic & therapeutic medical care at all PAF Hospitals. The service charges are very reasonable and even less than what is being charged in civil hospitals for the same facilities provided in the open market. PAF Hospitals and Health Care Units of PAF Hospitals at Masroor, Mushaf, Rafiqui, Mianwali, PAC Kamra, Islamabad and Faisal provide all modern diagnostic and therapeutic services to the entitled population. The medical squadrons of PAF render a wide spectrum of preventive and primary health-care services to the base population, including polio and viral immunization programmes. All these units have the Base Sick Quarters where less serious medical problems are professionally dealt with.
PAF Hospitals at Masroor, Mushaf, Rafiqui, Mianwali, PAC Kamra, Islamabad and Faisal provide all modern diagnostic and therapeutic services to the entitled population. The medical squadrons of PAF render a wide spectrum of preventive and primary health-care services to the base population, including polio and viral immunization programmes. All these units have the Base Sick Quarters where less serious medical problems are dealt with.
Each flying base has an establishment of Flight Surgeon's Inspection Room, commonly called Tech M I Room, where 2-3 Flight Surgeons render comprehensive medical service to the assigned aircrew and the technical manpower of the flying squadrons.
Dental Units in all PAF Bases provide Dental care services to the entitled individuals.
It was established in 1956 at PAF Base Masroor by amalgamation of Aircrew Indoctrination and Research Centre and Medical Assistants Training School. AMI PAF Masroor is the most prestigious and the only institute in the country which imparts training in Aerospace Medicine to the medical officers of Pak Armed Forces, PIA/CAA and the friendly countries.
CMB was established on 15 August 1947 at PAF Station Chaklala and shortly afterwards shifted to Lahore and moved to its present location PAF Base, Masroor in 1959. CMB PAF is responsible for Medical evaluation of civilian candidates for commission in GD(P) and ground branches of PAF, Medical evaluation of Army and Naval aviation personnel, conduct medical boards of PAF officers and airmen, medical boards required for issue and renewal of various civil aviation licenses, holding of special boards entrusted by the DMS(Air).
Preventive Health Care Services. Children are vaccinated against Tuberculosis, Polio, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus and Measles. Officers and Airmen are vaccinated against TAB and TT annually. Besides all the new entrants in PAF ie cadets and recruits are vaccinated against Hepatitis B, Anti-malarial measures in offices and residences are provided in the form of sprays, repellents, oral tablets and screening of houses/barracks against mosquitoes, Senior Medical Officer at the Base conducts monthly sanitary rounds of the barracks, shops and kitchens. Food handlers are examined in the laboratory for infectious diseases. Safe drinking water is provided by chlorination and ultraviolet filtration. Screening of newly inducted uniformed personnel for various diseases like Hepatitis `B', Hepatitis `C' and HIV is done. During service, screening is undertaken in the form of Annual Medical Examination and during boards on various occasions.
Physical fitness programme like Games and PT are organized on daily basis for uniformed personnel at all levels. Physical efficiency tests for uniformed personnel are carried out on quarterly basis. Lectures and talks on first aid, common diseases, general hygiene and sanitation are periodically delivered to personnel.
PAF has been successfully participating in the family planning and reproductive health programme since 1996 and a comprehensive Family Planning Project in collaboration with Family Planning Association of Pakistan (FPAP) has been implemented since March, 2003. Clinical/surgical services and contraceptive supplies are being provided in PAF Hospitals, Med Sqns and Community Welfare Centres (CWCs) under the care of trained staff. Lectures are given to male and female in this regard.
Sick report is observed in Medical Inspection Rooms for airmen and officers. Families of the officers and airmen report sick in Family Wings and Community Welfare Centres (CWCs). Officers, Airmen and their families report sick in the Dental Out Patient Department regarding any dental problems.
Specialist's consultation is sought in complicated cases from PAF Hospitals, Naval Hospitals and Military Hospitals, Indoor medical facilities are provided by PAF Hospitals. Where PAF Hospitals are not available, this facility is provided by Combined Military Hospitals (CMHs) and Naval Hospitals. Basic diagnostic facilities are provided at Medical Squadron level, PAF hospitals and for sophisticated tests at Army Hospitals.
Officers, Airmen and families are referred for advanced facilities at various centres like Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology and Armed Forces Institute of Dentistry etc. Certain exclusive centres at Military Hospitals provide special facilities to critically sick individuals through Pulmonology Deptt, Nephrology Deptt etc.
Physiotherapy Deptts are established at Medical Squadrons level to provide facilities to the officers, airmen and their families. Artificial limbs/prosthesis are provided by Fauji Foundation Hospitals. At Base level, small rehabilitation centres are also established to provide education to special children.