War Surgery and Medicine
The growth of 2 NZEF in Egypt from a brigade to a division boosted the VD admissions to Camp Hospital—the average bed state in December 1940 was 36.2; in January 1941, 43.1; and in February 1941, 58.5. The incidence of VD in New Zealand and British forces at that time was stated in a report by the Adviser in Venereology to be almost the same. The incidence continued to rise and by July 1941 gave rise to some concern, and an examination of the problem was carried out by the 2 NZEF authorities. In that month there were 111 cases from New Zealand divisional units and 36 from other New Zealand troops. Figures were produced to show that 6.3 per cent of the force acquired VD in the period of one year. (Note: In all these figures no clear distinction was made between ‘venereal’ and ‘non-venereal’ admissions. About 30 per cent of the patients had their condition diagnosed as ‘non-venereal’, although many of these had exposed themselves to infection.)
In a report to DDMS 2 NZEF in July 1941 the officer in charge VD Section, Maadi Camp Hospital, set out some disturbing facts about the habits of New Zealand troops at the time. An accurate tally of the number of New Zealanders using the PA Centre at the Sharia Wagh el Birket for the week ended 4 July 1941 gave the following figures: Friday, 503; Saturday, 683; Sunday, 303; Monday, 258; Tuesday, 172; Wednesday, 127; Thursday, 116. page 600 Total for week, 2164. Some soldiers doubtless used the Centre more than once in the week, but there were also those who used other places and means of prophylaxis, and those who took no precautions at all. There was an obvious need to stress further the dangers of incontinent life in Egypt, and to correct the unwitting but dangerous sentiments conveyed by non-medical lecturers who tended to recommend the use of legalised brothels. Emphasis on prophylactic measures was repeated.