New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy
Health of NZANS and NZWAAC
Health of NZANS and NZWAAC
Although the health of the women's services in 2 NZEF was satisfactory the climatic conditions and the strain of the work led to the decision to repatriate to New Zealand all nursing sisters with three years' service overseas, or who were over 40 years of age, except for a few in senior positions.
In August 1943 Colonel Boyd investigated the comparative sickness incidence in sisters and voluntary aids over the period January 1942 to May 1943. At this time there were in the Middle East 244 nursing sisters and 193 voluntary aids. Of the former, 118 (48 per cent) had had some form of illness occasioning 201 admissions to hospital and the loss of 3673 working days. Of the 193 voluntary aids, 170 (88 per cent) had had some form of illness, accounting for 337 hospital admissions and a loss of 7644 working days. The average loss of working days for each individual sick was 31·1 days in the case of sisters and 44·9 days in the case of voluntary aids. In other words, the recovery of the latter was slower. Infections were the most page 487 frequent cause of indisposition and accounted for 31 per cent of all admissions of sisters and 51·8 per cent of admissions of voluntary aids. Colonel Boyd concluded that, as the voluntary aids did not arrive in Egypt until January 1942, it was reasonable to expect that the high susceptibility of voluntary aids would diminish, as immunity developed following repeated exposure. The following table shows the conditions which were the most frequent cause of indisposition:
|Disease||NZANS||NZWAAC (Hosp Div)|
|Dysentery, diarrhoea, and catarrhal enteritis||34||93|
|Sinusitis, tonsillitis, and pharyngitis||16||36|
|Boils, carbuncles, and IAT||17||20|
Of the nursing sisters who were sick, ten were sufficiently ill to be medically boarded and returned to New Zealand, while 15 sick voluntary aids were returned to New Zealand. Among the nursing sisters the commonest causes of invaliding were cholecystitis (3) and functional nervous disorders (2), and among the voluntary aids typhoid (4) and pneumonia (2).
(In October 1942 there had been an outbreak of typhoid fever among the NZWAAC staff at 3 General Hospital which affected seven of the staff. All had been inoculated and the source of the infection was not discovered. As these patients had a severe form of the disease, it was decided that they should all be invalided back to New Zealand. Two other members of the NZWAAC who had contracted the disease in February 1942 had had to be invalided home when they were unable subsequently to stand up to nursing conditions.)