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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Base Medical Activities

Base Medical Activities

After the battle casualties from the Libyan campaign had been dealt with and the serious cases evacuated to New Zealand, the hospitals settled down to routine work and, with a relatively low incidence of sickness in 2 NZEF, were not taxed. The medical staffs took the opportunity of the lull to carry out important clinical investigations into certain diseases or surgical conditions, including hepatitis, dyspepsia, and nerve injuries, reference to which has been made in the clinical volume of the Medical History, War Surgery and Medicine. These investigations were of great value in the management of the conditions later, as well as in stimulating the enthusiasm of the members of the medical staffs. The investigation of hepatitis was particularly valuable and helped considerably in the elucidation of the mode of transmission of infection, the opinion being expressed that the virus was transmitted by faecal contamination of food.

A series of cases of brachial neuritis of virus origin was reviewed, as well as some cases of agranulocytosis following sulphapyridine treatment.

A medical conference was held at 15 Scottish Hospital in Cairo in April and the Consultant Physician reported on the discussions. Bacillary dysentery was being treated by the early administration of sulphaguanidine, and also of anti-dysenteric serum in Shiga infections. It was held that smaller dosage was satisfactory in the average case and that sulphaguanidine had had no bad effects. Saline treatment had been abandoned. Digestive disorders were held to be of nervous origin in 80 per cent of the cases, most of which had previously arisen in civil life. The clinical meeting of the conference was held at our Helwan hospital—a great compliment to the unit.

The Consultant Physician made a study of typhus in the civilian population of Egypt at that time and furnished reports on the subject for the information of the hospital staffs, drawing attention to a discussion on the subject at the Royal Society of Medicine at page 312 that time. Fortunately, though typhus was prevalent in Egypt during the war, it affected our own force very little, only occasional cases arising, with a few deaths.

Colonel Boyd also investigated the asthmatics and epileptics in 2 NZEF, the policy having been determined to evacuate all such cases to New Zealand; but the lack of shipping had resulted in the retention of some of the cases in the Middle East. Up to May 1942 there had been 143 asthmatics, 117 of whom had been evacuated to New Zealand, and 44 epileptics, 34 of whom had also been sent to New Zealand. It was found that most of those kept in the Middle East had done good service at Base.

A review of the results of treatment of the cases of hernia and varicose veins was made by the Consultant Surgeon. This showed that the results of operative treatment of hernia were generally excellent, and that there was little disability in the force due to varicose veins. The only bad results in the varicose veins cases were due to excessive injections, leading to the blocking of the deep veins, and to faulty ligation or non-tying of the saphenous vein. Operation for varicocele was advised against, and the condition caused no real disability.

A review was also made of the results of operative treatment of the different internal derangements of the knee, and the results were found to be highly satisfactory as regards future fitness for service in the Division.