Portuguese Republic

Capital: LisbonArea: 92.345 km2Population: 10.374.822Official Language: PortugueseArmed Forces Personnel: 30.088Medical Officers: 294Military Hospitals / Institutes: 1/n/aMissions: multiple

Surgeon General
João Jácome de Castro
Brigadier General

Military Health Director
Armed Forces General Staff
Av. Ilha da Madeira, 1 – 4º piso
1400-204 Lisboa

Basic Task of the Military Medical Service

The purpose of the Military Health Services (MHS) in support of the Portuguese Armed Forces is to provide healthcare and health protection services to the military active service personnel, and their families, as well as reservists and pensioners from the Defense Forces. The military health services are aimed to provide care according to the best medical practices. Their whole action comprises planning, management, preventive actions, direct patient care, medical intelligence gathering and release, training & education of health services personnel and research innovation and development initiatives. The military health services play a critical role in establishing and maintaining the operational readiness and combat capability of the Portuguese Armed Forces. Currently the military health services support domestic missions focused on national defense and humanitarian operations, including fighting against COVID19 pandemic in an active cooperation with the Portuguese National Health System as well as deployed personnel on peacekeeping operations. 


The Military Health Director is the main advisor of the Armed Forces Chief of Staff in all matters related to Defense healthcare. The Surgeon General (SG) is the coordinator of joint medical planning and operations providing operational medical support to exercises and operations, allocating human resources, managing medical careers and post-graduated education of medical personnel and providing technical and scientific advising to Armed Forces Staff Board.

PhotoMilitary Health System Structure

The Operational Medical support is provided, under the coordination of the SG, by the health units of the branches and includes pre-hospital care, prolonged field care and medevac as well as preventive medicine services, namely food safety, epidemiological surveillance and occupational health. 

Military Hospitals

The back-up support is provided by a central and university military hospital that is under the direction of the DIRSAM. The Armed Forces Hospital (Hospital das Forças Armadas – HFAR) comprises two hospital buildings, in Lisbon and Oporto. The Lisbon ROLE IV structure is located on a Military Health Campus, together with the aeronautic, underwater/hyperbaric, epidemiologic and training/research units, facilitating synergies. Besides providing health care, HFAR is also part of the network of sites where medical students, nurses and physiotherapists of Lisbon Universities and Health Schools can do their training. 

PhotoHospital das Forças Armadas – Polo de Lisboa (HFAR-PL) | Armed Forces Hospital, Lisbon (Google)

PhotoHospital das Forças Armadas – Polo do Porto (HFAR-PP) | Armed Forces Hospital, Oporto (Credits HFAR Porto)

Institutes, Research and Public Health 

The military health services are engaged in multiple research, development and innovation activities in partnerships with national and international academic institutes and private companies. Research and development activities include physiology and clinical research but also innovation in operational activities.

PhotoCentro de Medicina Subaquática e Hiperbárica (CMSH) | Hyperbaric and Diving Medicine Center (credits Marinha Portuguesa)

PhotoCentro de Medicina Aeronáutica (CMA) | Aeronautic Medicine Center (Google)

Number of Medical Personnel

Human ResourcesMilitaryCiviliansMilitaryCiviliansMilitaryCivilians
Health   Technicians2888402768115
(medical internship) 03750753

Source: From Statistical Yearbook of Portuguese National Defence - 2021 

The diversity of the health services missions is covered by both military and civilian personnel working at the Armed Forces. The health military services comprise different specialized carriers for military physicians, pharmacists, veterinarians and dentists. Military nurses, diagnostic and therapeutic technicians, veterinarian nurses and pharmacy technicians also have autonomous carrier paths. 

PhotoAeromedevac (credits Marinha Portuguesa)

Photo8. Tactical Combat Casualty Care exercises (credits Marinha Portuguesa)

Health support to deployed troops

Recently, three medical facilities (role one) were deployed to support portuguese missions: one to República Centro Africana (RCA), another one to Afganistan and another one to Mozambique.

(status: 19 December 2022)