Philip Nwosu, Lagos
The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, has approved the treatment abroad of wounded soldiers in the northeast counterinsurgency operations against terror group Boko Haram.
The revelation was made by the Acting Chief Medical Officer of 68 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital Yaba, Lagos, Brigadier General Adekola Dada, who explained that the welfare of soldiers fighting in Nigeria’s northeast is important to the authorities of the force.
He said that all personnel of the Nigerian Army wounded in the fight against Boko Haram in the northeast requiring treatment abroad will be quickly flown to India, Egypt or United Kingdom to be properly treated.
The force said it is on the verge of flying seven wounded personnel, who sustained injuries fighting in the northeast, to India for treatment.
Dada stated that General Buratai has approved their movement and that of their medical escorts to India to ensure they get the best treatment.
He spoke while conducting journalist around the remodeled Nigerian Army Reference Hospital in Yaba, explaining that the casualty figures from the fight in the northeast is dropping and that it was an indication that the Nigerian Army personnel are turning the tide against the insurgents.
In the past, he noted, casualty figures were in the neighbourhood of the 100s, but “today you can see that the figure has thinned down and here you can see just one person has a wound, and he was not wounded in battle but fractured the right tibia while training in Bunu Yadi, Yobe State.”
General Dada, addressing journalists alongside Chief of Staff of the 81 Division Brigadier General Hamisu Hassan, said that the seven soldiers being prepared for referral in India were wounded in battle but are relatively stable, but will still be medically evacuated to that country to clear some issues that have arisen in regard their health.
General Dada said that Army authorities had recently embarked on a remodeling and reconstruction of the 68 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital in Lagos and the 44 NARH in Kaduna to ensure that they get the necessary equipment and atmosphere conducive to treatment of personnel in future.
He said that two phases of the process in the remodeling of the hospital have been completed by the authorities, and that the third phase would soon commence with the remodeling of the administrative block.
He lamented the huge financial burden on the Nigerian Army for medical evacuations, explaining that an evacuation for each personnel could cost as much as $40,000, excluding estacode and funds for the escorts.
General Dada described as unfortunate a recent publication that the force does not cater to its wounded personnel, noting that the Army has engaged private hospitals in Abuja to ensure that personnel who are wounded in battle get the best treatment possible.