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    Peer Reviewed

    Epidemiological experience in the mission of the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) in Namibia.

    Steffen R; Desaules M; Nagel J; Vuillet F; Schubarth P; Jeanmaire CH; Huber A


    Medical reports modelled after the US Peace Corps surveillance form provided mortality and morbidity data of the United Nations Transition Assistance Group in Namibia in 1989-1990. Contingents included Australians, Canadians, Danes, Finns, Kenyans, Malays, Poles, Spaniards, and Britons. Traffic accidents, mostly those on long distance journeys caused 14 of 16 deaths. The fatality ratio was 0.21/million km driven which was considerably higher than that in Switzerland 0.02/million km driven. Even though heavy traffic was not a problem in Namibia, limited experience on unpaved roads; high speeds induced by long and tedious driving; and reduced visibility caused by climactic conditions, fatigue, and alcohol contributed to high fatality. The hospitalization rate of 5.2% (369 patients) was rather high for a young and healthy population. The leading reasons for hospitalization included fever of unknown origin, trauma, and respiratory tract infections. Swiss Medical Unit physicians transferred 25 patients to the State Hospital in Windhoek, most for orthopedic surgery. Injuries, psychiatric problems, and alcoholism resulted in repatriation for 66% of 46 repatriated patients. New consultations for treatment averaged 2.7/person and those for preventive measures averaged 0.8/person. Helicopter pilots was the largest group returning for 2nd visits (56% compared to 1% for logistics staff). The major reasons for attending outpatient clinics included immunizations (18.8%), dental problems (10.5%), and respiratory infections (10.5%). In addition to respiratory infections, other frequent communicable diseases included diarrhea or dysentery, dermatological infections, sexually transmitted diseases, and confirmed or suspected malaria. Preventive measures are needed to reduce mortality due to traffic accidents and the prevalence of psychological and dental problems.
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