South African Military Health Service

The South African Military Health Service is the branch of the South African National Defence Force responsible for medical facilities and the training and deployment of all medical personnel within the force. Though unusual, as most national militaries integrate their medical structures into their existing service branches, the SANDF regards this structure as being the most efficient method of providing care and support to the SANDF's personnel.

South African Military Health Service
SAMHS logo.svg
Emblem of SAMHS
Active1979–1994 (as SAMS of the SADF)
1994–present (as SAMHS of the SANDF)
Country South Africa
TypeMilitary health service
  • 9,922[1] (Active)
  • 1,115 (In Reserve)
Part ofDepartment of Defence
HeadquartersPretoria, Gauteng
Minister of Defence and Veteran AffairsNosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula
Surgeon GeneralLieutenant-General Zola Dabula
SAMHS flag.svg

It is a significant actor in the effort to control HIV/AIDS within the SANDF.


The predecessor of the SAMHS, the South African Medical Service, was established as a full service branch of the South African Defence Force (SADF) on 1 July 1979 in order to consolidate and strengthen the medical services of the South African Army, South African Navy and South African Air Force.


Following the end of the Border War, in the early 1990s, it implemented several retrenchment measures. It consolidated all quartermaster stores in the Cape Town and Bloemfontein areas, relocated its training center from Potchefstroom to Pretoria, closed several medical supply depots, consolidated computer centers and systems, rationalized procedures for procuring medicine and medical equipment, discontinued survival training, and reduced or closed sickbays and military medical clinics that served other armed services affected by retrenchments.

The SAMS was incorporated into the South African National Defence Force on 27 April 1994, and was renamed the South African Military Health Service on 1 June 1998.

Organisational StructureEdit

The SAMHS includes active duty military personnel and civilian employees of the Department of Defence. In addition, the service employs roughly 400 medical doctors and private medical specialists are sometimes appointed to supplement the staff of the SAMHS.

The Surgeon General heads the SAMHS and has the rank of Lieutenant-General. The SAMHS operates three Military Hospitals; one in Pretoria, one in Cape Town and one in Bloemfontein. There are also four specialized institutes - the Institute for Aviation Medicine, the Institute for Maritime Medicine, the Military Veterinary Institute and the Military Psychological Institute. Together, these units provide comprehensive medical care for military personnel and their dependents, as well as the police and employees of other security-related government departments, and occasionally to neighboring countries. The SAMHS also provides extensive veterinary services for animals (mainly horses and dogs) used by the security and correctional services. The Institute for Aviation Medicine and the Institute for Maritime Medicine screen pilot candidates for the air force and for civilian aviation certification, as well as divers and submariners for the navy. The military's medical services also include general medical and dental care, and specialized rehabilitation services.

The SAMHS is organized into regional medical commands, corresponding to the army's regional commands, as well as a Medical Logistics Command and a Medical Training Command. The regional commands support military units, military base hospitals, and military unit sickbays in their region. The Medical Logistics Command is responsible for medical logistics only, as each service provides for its own logistics support. In addition, the Medical Training Command supervises the South African Medical Service College, the South African Military Health Service Nursing College, and the South African Military Health Service Training Centre, as well as the military hospitals' training programs. The nursing college, in Pretoria, grants a four-year nursing diploma in association with the University of South Africa. Specialized, in-service training courses for nurses and for nursing assistants are also available.


Mobile Military Health FormationEdit

Tertiary Military Health FormationEdit

Area Military Health FormationEdit

Military Health Training FormationEdit

Military Health Support FormationEdit

General Support BaseEdit

Directorates & ServicesEdit

  • Director Medicine
  • Chaplain Services
  • Sport & Recreation
  • Corporate Communication

Proficiency InsigniaEdit

Proficiency insignia of the South African Military Health Service
Medical Doctor Dentist Nurse Ops Medic Pharmacist Psychologist Veterinarian Social Work Officer Health Inspector Ancillary Health Farrier Administrative


South African Military Health Service
From Surgeons General To
27 April 1994 Lt Gen Daniel Knobel SSAS SD SOE SM MMM KStJ MBC HB PHD 30 November 1997
1 December 1997 Lt Gen Davidson Masuku SSAS MMM KStJ 30 September 2000
1 October 2000 Lt Gen Jurinus Janse van Rensburg SD SM MMM KStJ 31 July 2005
1 August 2005 Lt Gen Vejaynand Ramlakan DMG MMS MMB KStJ 31 March 2013
1 April 2013 Lt Gen Aubrey Sedibe DMG MMS MMM KStJ 31 October 2019
1 November 2019 Lt Gen Zola Dabula[2] incumbent

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "SANDF not meeting staffing targets". DefenceWeb. 11 November 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
  2. ^ "Meet South Africa's new surgeon-general". eNCA. 20 Nov 2019. Retrieved 8 June 2020.