Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu will upgrade their existing military hospitals to state-of-the-art Command Hospitals.
"It has been decided to upgrade the hospitals in (the southern states) with the latest modern medical facilities," Vice Admiral surgeon Vijay K. Singh, director general of the Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS), told IANS.
Singh said a Rs.3-billion budget has been sanctioned, out of which Rs.1.5 billion has been spent on buying new equipment like CT Scan, MRI, colour dopler besides other orthopaedic instruments for the hospitals, which will be start functioning by March 31 next year.
"Another Rs.1.5 billion will be spent on modernizing the infrastructure and construction of hospitals in Kochi, Chennai and Secunderabad," he added. The vice-admiral is also a consultant to the International Cochlear Research Centre at Melbourne, Australia.
Singh said these hospitals were given less attention because troops were primarily deployed on the borders of northern states. But since the number of ex-servicemen, their dependents and families were increasing, it was decided to upgrade them.
"Besides, the upgrading will be useful during any unforeseen natural disasters like earthquakes and the 2005 tsunami that ravaged the southern states," said Singh, a pioneer in the Cochlear Implant programme in the armed forces for which he was awarded the Param Vishist Seva Medal.
"I am very happy with the upgradation of these hospitals as most of my life has been spent serving in the southern states. Besides rendering medical services to the armed forces, ex-service personnel and their dependents, even the civilians can avail high quality medical treatment in these hospitals," he said.
Currently there are seven Command Hospitals in Pune, Mumbai, Lucknow, Udhampur (Jammu and Kashmir), New Delhi, Chandigarh, Kolkota and Bangalore, besides several military hospitals, which approximately cater to two million serving armed forces personnel, their 7.5 million dependents, 2.5 million ex-servicemen and their 12.5 million dependents and also about five million civilians.