The SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) is the most junior of the SANDF’s four services and the only that does not have a combatant role.
It is one of the few military medical services independent of the three traditional services and in this way can either be described as “unique” or as an “anomaly.” Unlike the army, air force or navy, all combat services, the SAMHS is a combat support service that provides medical, general health and sanitary, as well as limited nuclear, chemical and biological defence support to the other services. It also provides the head of state with personal medical services.
The SAMHS was established as the SA Medical Corps of the Permanent Force of the Union Defence Force in 1912. It was to remain a component of the SA Army until 1 July 1979, when it became a service of equal status with its parent, the SA Air Force and SA Navy, which had established its own naval medical service in 1957.
From the 1960s on, the SAMC had become an ever-more autonomous service and in 1970 its chief, the Surgeon General (SG) was promoted to Lieutenant General. Up to that time, the SG had been a major general, already a senior rank. The SA Medical Service was incorporated into the SA National Defence Force on 27 April 1994, and was renamed the SA Military Health Service on 1 June 1998.
What is the core business of the SAMHS?
“To ensure a healthy military community we need to provide a comprehensive, excellent and self-supporting multidisciplinary military health service, which ensures a healthy military community.”
A healthy military community.
To provide a comprehensive, excellent and self-supporting multidisciplinary military health service, which ensures a healthy military community.
Interpretation of the mission
Provide: Should be seen as ensured and if the SAMHS cannot render service, then outsourcing takes place.
Comprehensive: Primary, secondary and tertiary, holistic.
Excellent: Exceeds client expectations in terms of professionalism and friendliness.
Self-supporting: Autonomy in operation.
Multidisciplinary: Interdisciplinary including more than one discipline – all disciplines related to well-being.
Military Health Service: Scope and nature of practice, not public/private health.