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War Surgery and Medicine

Egypt, 1940

Egypt, 1940

Efforts were made from the start to educate the troops in the prevention of venereal disease. At the GOC's conference on page 598 15 February 1940 the ADMS NZ Division addressed commanding officers and medical officers and gave a survey of the venereal disease problem.

The troops were lectured on the subject soon after their arrival in Egypt. They were informed that their use of the legalised brothels in Cairo did not render them safe from venereal disease. There was a regular medical examination of prostitutes by civilian authorities, but it was far from efficient. Troops who did indulge in sexual intercourse were encouraged to use the prophylactic outfits which they could draw prior to going on leave, and to attend the prophylactic ablution centre in the Birket immediately after exposure to infection. There were also centres in Maadi Camp, and troops were expected to undertake prophylaxis there on their return to camp if they had not already done so.

The early incidence of venereal disease in Egypt fortunately proved to be comparatively low, due, it was thought, to the supervision of the brothels and prostitutes, good control of the PA centres, and the educational efforts of the medical officers. Gonorrhoea was cleared up readily by sulphathiazole, and the men were soon returned to their units from the treatment centre set up at the Maadi Camp Hospital. On his arrival in September 1940 from England Lieutenant W. M. Platts, who had received training in venereal disease treatment at Connaught Hospital, Aldershot, was placed in charge of the venereal disease section of the hospital, which by the end of 1940 had accommodation for 70 patients, although its average occupied bed state was 35. Valuable assistance and advice was given at that time and subsequently by Lieutenant-Colonel R. Lees, Adviser in Venereology, GHQ MEF.