Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Hygiene and Sanitation in Tripoli

Hygiene and Sanitation in Tripoli

Tripoli was the first enemy city to be occupied by Eighth Army. As a city it presented problems in hygiene and sanitation in that the health of the troops had to be protected by the control of the diseases of the civilian population. In 2 NZ Division the needs in this connection were anticipated, and as early as 11 January the ADMS, DADMS, DAPM, and OC 4 Field Hygiene Section held a conference on the matter, the last-named setting out in a report some of the important factors.

When the New Zealanders entered Tripoli on 23 January OC 4 Field Hygiene Section reported to ADH 30 Corps, who stated that prevalent diseases in the city were relapsing fever, typhus, dysentery, and typhoid, but that there was no smallpox or malaria. The water supply was intact and working, as was the system of water carriage of sewage (although this was temporarily disrupted later). Brothels were in existence, with a control by means of registration and a medical examination of prostitutes. The civil hospitals were intact and functioning, including a research laboratory. The comparative lack of disruption of the civil hygiene and sanitation services simplified the problem for the Eighth Army hygiene units, but nevertheless many important duties had to be undertaken.

page 417

It was arranged that detachments of 4 Field Hygiene Section should be quartered with 7 British Field Hygiene Section in Tripoli. (Most of the troops, after the first occupation, were withdrawn to the outskirts of Tripoli but were admitted to the city on leave.) The hygiene personnel undertook the duties of inspecting and reporting on restaurants, caféAs, bars, hairdressers and, in conjunction with supply authorities, local sources of food supplies.

Regulations were drawn up by 4 Field Hygiene Section in English, French, and Italian, setting out the standards required by the British Army medical authorities in the conduct of all these business premises, which, generally speaking, were of a higher standard hygienically than in Egypt. Although opinion among the medical officers of 2 NZ Division was against the institution of controlled brothels for troops, the Army authorities decided to open a number of houses. A prophylactic ablution centre was attached to each and the prostitutes were medically examined three times a week.

While the New Zealand troops were resting outside Tripoli, 4 Field Hygiene Section carried out a heavy programme of showering and disinfestation. The capture of Italian disinfestors and a mobile shower unit greatly increased the available facilities. The new shower unit was a most valuable addition to the section's equipment and enabled 200 men an hour to have a full shower if the water supply was adequate.

Altogether the effective enforcement of hygiene precautions prevented any outbreak of disease of an epidemic nature, and the health of the troops remained good. For the advance into Tunisia detailed plans were made beforehand for combating disease, again with creditable results. The precautions against malaria were not fully tested as the campaign ended before the onset of the malaria season.