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War Surgery and Medicine

North Africa and Sicily

North Africa and Sicily

Back in Egypt the incidence was similar to previous seasons.

By the spring of 1943 the Division had advanced with the page 523 Eighth Army across North Africa to Tunisia, which was highly malarious, especially around the coastal regions. Anti-malaria preparations were begun in March, a divisional malaria officer was appointed, and at the beginning of April 1 NZ AMCU was formed at Advanced Base, received training at 8 Field Malaria Laboratory and commenced work in the divisional area near the end of April. It had limited equipment as a consignment of anti-malaria equipment for Eighth Army was lost at sea. Unit anti-malaria squads were formed and personal precautions were enforced from late in April. Bush nets were issued and used, but the type of repellent cream issued was found to be ineffective against the culicine mosquito which abounded in the divisional area near Enfidaville. Surveys did not bring to light any anopheline mosquitoes in the divisional area up till the time the Division left for Egypt on 15 May. According to reports few malaria cases normally occurred in the civilian population in Tunisia before June, and by that time the Division was back in Maadi Camp with few, if any, cases of malaria developed during the short sojourn in Tunisia.

The incidence among the troops in Egypt in the summer of 1943 was rather less than that of the two preceding years, notwithstanding the fact that divisional troops proceeded to all parts of the Middle East on leave. The highest incidence of just over 2 per 1000 occurred in October.

In the campaign in Sicily in 1943 there was a large outbreak of malaria, and casualties due to this disease exceeded battle casualties. The reasons for this were shown to be slackness in mepacrine administration, failure of MCUs to arrive early, and lack of appreciation by the troops of personal protection methods. If all precautions had been taken and medical advice followed, it was estimated that the rate would not have exceeded 40 per 1000 per annum. This estimate was more than upheld by the experience of 2 NZEF in Italy in 1944 and 1945, when its rate was only 8 per 1000 per annum.