The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) today, 26 October 2019, commissioned the NAF School of Medical Sciences and Aviation Medicine (NAFSMSAM) at the NAF Base, Kaduna.  The School, which has 3 colleges within its span of control, is tasked with the initial training of nurses and medical technicians in the allied medical fields such as pharmacy, medical laboratory and preventive health services. The School is also expected to organize upgrading and refresher courses for various categories of NAF Medical Services personnel aimed at exposing them to global best practices in aviation medicine.

In his remarks during the commissioning ceremony, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, expressed his delight, describing it as a milestone in the history of the NAF. The CAS recounted that upon his assumption of office in July 2015, he resolved to improve the welfare services for NAF personnel, which he perceived as a major requirement in the development of human capacity for enhanced operational performance. According to him, while the NAF was being restructured for efficient service delivery over the last 4 years, there had been series of infrastructural improvements aimed at repositioning it for more effective and efficient employment of Air Power. “The infrastructural developments of the Service necessitated the establishment of new hospitals and medical centres across the country to provide adequate medical support for NAF operations as well as members of host communities”, he added.

Air Marshal Abubakar stated that the School would, no doubt, help in bridging the manpower requirement gap as well as add significant value in enhancing the human capacity of the Medical Services, thereby ensuring NAF personnel are healthy and safe to effectively discharge their duties. He noted that even before commissioning, the School had commenced training activities and, as such, has been discharging some of its assigned roles and responsibilities. According to the CAS, in August 2019, the School churned out the first set of students for A1 upgrading courses for NAF pharmacists and medical laboratory technicians. It has also organized 2 streams of refresher courses for NAF nurses and an orientation course for NAF’s newly commissioned officers of the Medical Specialty. Additionally, he revealed that the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria had recently granted the School accreditation to train nurses. Air Marshal Abubakar disclosed that the School was therefore ready to admit its first set of NAF students for training in general nursing.

The CAS stated further that the commissioning of the School and takeoff of the College of Nursing mark the end of the First Phase of the School’s development.He explained that the NAF is ready to partner with relevant professional bodies and councils to gain accreditation to run courses in various areas of need. He emphasized that, beyond the effort made to ensure that the School was commissioned, the NAF has been taking other measures to motivate its medical personnel. He revealed that the Service has sponsored a number of medical personnel on courses and conferences locally and abroad. “I have also approved for the Service to take over the payment of professional licensing fees of medical personnel”, he disclosed.

During his welcome address, the Chief of Medical Services (CMS), Air Commodore Gideon Bako, appreciated the CAS for his vision and foresight in establishing the NAFSMSAM. He stated that the School is the flagship of the commitment of the CAS towards enhancing personnel welfare through the provision of quality healthcare. Air Commodore Bako also noted that the School would serve to provide the requisite manpower for enhanced medical services in the NAF, while also driving the reorientation and attitudinal change of medical personnel towards patient-focused service delivery. He recalled that it was under the present CAS that the then Directorate of Medical Services was upgraded to Branch status. He added that the NAF today has 3 reference hospitals and many medical centres upgraded with modern diagnostic and therapeutic equipment for the benefit of NAF personnel, their families and host communities.  He therefore used the opportunity to express the gratitude of NAF medical personnel to the CAS for trusting and investing in the Medical Services Branch.

The CMS equally thanked the CAS for recognizing the hard work of NAF Medical personnel by approving the elevation of the Home Matron of the College of Nursing and Regimental Sergeant Major of the NAFSMSAM, Grace Garba, to the enviable rank of Air Warrant Officer (AWO). He noted that AWO Garba was not only the first airwoman to be so elevated but also the first Medical personnel to attain the enviable rank.

In recognition of their past service and dedication to duty, 4 retired NAF Medical officers, in the persons of Air Vice Marshal Saleh Shinkafi, Air Cdre Aisha Abdulahi, Group Captain Olayinka Periera and Group Captain Rakia Omar, had facilities in the School named after them.  The well-attended event had the Secretary General Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria as well as the Kaduna State Coordinator of the Council in attendance. Also present were the Director of Nursing Services Kaduna State Ministry of Health as well as many serving and retired senior NAF officers.

Air Commodore
Director of Public Relations and Information
Nigerian Air Force