Speaking at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's First Military Medicine Conference, he said the regional grouping is an "alliance of the East" due to its growing centrality in Asia-Pacific
The real threat in today's time is bioterrorism, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on September 12 and called upon the Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) of the SCO countries to devise ways to effectively deal with new challenges posed to the soldiers in the battlefield.
Speaking at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's First Military Medicine Conference, he said the regional grouping is an "alliance of the East" due to its growing centrality in Asia-Pacific. He said the SCO has been the primary security pillar in the region.
Singh described bioterrorism as a "contagious plague" and underlined the importance of building capabilities to deal with the menace.
"The armed forces and its medical services have to be at the forefront of combating this menace," Singh said.
The ever advancing battlefield technology has imposed a vast array of previously unrecognised challenges, Singh observed, noting that newer and non-conventional challenges of warfare have added to the complexities of existing challenges.
"The medical services of the armed forces are expected to play a vital role in identifying these challenges, defining the limits of human tolerance and suggesting strategies to mitigate the adverse health effects of such environments.
"The threat of nuclear, chemical and biological warfare further adds to the complexity of the situation. The medical professionals of the armed forces are probably uniquely equipped to deal with these deadly challenges," he said.
China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are members of the SCO.
The conference is being attended by 27 international and 40 Indian delegates.
At the conference, the seat allotted to Pakistan was vacant.
This is the first military cooperation event hosted by India after becoming a full-time member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
He said SCO is the largest regional organisation in the world in terms of geographical coverage and population and the countries of the grouping cover 22 per cent of the world's land mass, 40 per cent population and contribute to 20 per cent of world's GDP.
He said India has been making positive contribution to SCO and actively participated in Ex Peace Mission in Russia.
Currently an Indian contingent is participating in Ex Centre 2019 in Russia along with other SCO partners.
The military exercises are conducted among members regularly to promote cooperation against terrorism and other external threats, he added.
Identifying "patient safety" as another area which needs to be further strengthened, Singh stressed on the need for awareness on healthy practices of patient safety that will greatly enhance the combat effectiveness of military services.
"Patient safety does not end at making correct diagnosis and prescribing correct medication. Dispensing that prescribed medicine to the correct patient via the correct method plays a crucial role in ensuring their safety," he said.
In his address, Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of Air Staff BS Dhanoa said the evolving technology translates into more and more complex casualties and therefore, it is imperative that AFMS keeps pace with technology and expertise.
Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to Chairman, Chief of Staff Committee, Lt Gen P S Rajeshwar said India decided to host the conference as it understands that wellness is an important component in maintaining effectiveness and efficiency of a soldier.
He said there is a need to enhance cooperation and build capacities so that common challenges faced by all nations can be overcome jointly.