Times of India
01 January 2009
By Prasad Kulkarni & Umesh Isalkar
Base to some of the most important institutions related to the Army Medical Corps (AMC), Pune has a very important place in the history and future of the corps, which is celebrating its 245th anniversary on January 1, 2009. The TOI interacted with some officials of these institutions to know these establishments’ role, history, contribution and importance to the armed forces as well as civil life. These institutions include the Armed Forces Medical College, Command Hospital (Southern Command), Military Hospital (Cardio–thoracic Centre), Military Hospital (Khadki) and the Artificial Limb Centre.
The first military medical service in India was established by the English East India Company on January 1, 1764. All medical officers serving in Bengal under the Calcutta presidency were grouped into a regular medical establishment called the Bengal medical service. In April 1896, it was integrated into the Indian Medical Service (IMS). On April 3, 1943, the Indian Army Medical Corps (IAMC) was formed by merging the IMS, Indian Medical Department and the Indian Hospital Corps (IHC).
“The AMC is keeping the Tricolor flying high by participating abroad in UN peace missions. In the field of medical science, centres of excellence are coming up at several tertiary care centres across the country,” said Lt Col Abhijit Rudra, spokesman the of Armed Forces medical College (AFMC). “The AMC institutions in Pune are playing a key role in keeping the reputation of army medical services intact.”
The AFMC is one of the leading institutes in medical training for the armed forces. Established on May 1, 1948, the college started an under–graduate wing in August 1962 and the college of nursing later.
Another leading AMC institution in Pune is the Command Hospital (Southern Command). Rudra said: “Established in 1869 and spread over 105 acres, it is the largest hospital of the Indian Army. The hospital gained fame due to the remarkable role it played during the ‘Operation Pavan’ in 1987. In that single operation, 868 casualties were treated in this hospital. The hospital played significant roles during the earthquakes at Latur (1993) and Bhuj (2001) and the tsunami (2004)”.
Pune also has the third–largest hospital of the armed forces, namely, the Military Hospital (Khadki). It has the largest orthopaedic centre and the largest spinal cord injury centre in south Asia. A total of 3,111 spinal cord injury patients have been treated at this centre.
The Artificial Limb Centre and the Military Hospital Cardio–Thoracic Centre (MH–CTC) are also some of the other important AMC institutions in the city. Established in 1947, the MHCTC has carried out as many as 7,000 open heart operations. Presently around 700 heart surgeries per year are being carried out here, including 200 paediatric cardiac surgeries. The Artificial Limb Centre has state–of–theart limb manufacturing facilities and a museum with over 500 artificial limbs of historical value, the officials of AMC said.