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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Hygiene and Sanitation in Divisional Camps

page 221

Hygiene and Sanitation in Divisional Camps

Special efforts had to be made to raise the standards of hygiene and sanitation in Helwan and Garawi camps early in June. Conditions responsible for the lower standard were the loss of trained sanitary men in Greece and Crete, the abnormal circumstances brought about by the reorganisation of the Division and the influx of a large number of reinforcements, the lack of camp equipment and tools, and a certain amount of inertia regarding sanitation in troops returned from the campaigns.

The latrines in Helwan Camp were of the bucket type, but the new camps of Garawi and Mahfouz (a new camp immediately north of Helwan Camp) had a boxed-in deep-pit type. With a certain amount of re-design and adequate supervision, this type worked satisfactorily and did away with the difficulties associated with the employment of unsatisfactory native contractors.

The general standard in cookhouses and messrooms was fair. Extensive fly-proofing was undertaken although the flies were not as numerous as in 1940. The water supply at Helwan of 24 gallons per man per day was adequate if care was exercised. The water supply for Helwan, Garawi, and Mahfouz camps came from the Nile, being first treated with alum and then filtered through sand. Repeated bacteriological examinations had shown very satisfactory results. The amount of water supplied, however, was barely adequate and some restriction was placed on showers. The Helwan Camp swimming bath was provided with a water circulation system through a sand filter and the water was chlorinated twice daily. Because of shortage of water it could be emptied only once weekly, and contamination by dust and wind-borne rubbish made it difficult to keep the water properly purified.

Mosquitoes were scarce but anti-malaria control was instituted. The issue of cresol for disinfection was cut down to 1 ½ gallons per 100 men per month; it was also of poor quality and was conserved for use outside latrines and messrooms for sterilisation of the hands.

Although it was summer and 5 Infantry Brigade and the 4th and 5th Reinforcements were comparative newcomers to Egypt, there was not much diarrhoea or dysentery. Considering this lessened degree of acclimatisation throughout the Division, improved sanitation must have played an important part in lessening the incidence of disease.