Conference abstract

Survival in desert environment: Tunisian military physician’s skills

Pan African Medical Journal - Conference Proceedings. 2017:4(14).15 Dec 2017.
doi: 10.11604/pamj-cp.2017.4.14.392

Contact the corresponding author
Keywords: Desert environment, survival, military, Tunisia

Survival in desert environment: Tunisian military physician’s skills

Amel Souissi1,&, Imed Ben Dhia1, Hanène Djemaiel1, Riadh Allani1, Nabil Guermazi1

1Medical Services Directorate, Ministry of Defense, Tunisia

&Corresponding author
Amel Souissi, Medical Services Directorate, Ministry of Defense, Tunisia


Introduction: often defined as a hostile environment which conspires against the human life, the Tunisian desert occupies 40% of the country, extending over an area of 25000 Km2 in the Southern region. It’s characterized by the wide temperature range between diurnal temperatures and between seasons, the scarcity of water, the presence of reptiles and venomous insects and sporadic, scattered woody and thorny flora making survival even more difficult for our soldiers working on such arid land and are exposed to several risks; This environment requires from military doctors a medical knowledge and appropriate expertise preventive and curative to treat physiology survival, psychology survival, acclimatization, but specially water and food supply rationing and their procurement. After water, man's most urgent requirement is food as the three essentials of survival are water, food, and shelter.

Methods: systemic review of the national history concerning this program.

Results: the Tunisian experience in this interesting subject of food supply management in the desert environment finds here a better study, and we will address mainly food rationing, edible plants and animals, insects and reptiles for food. Military physician must know the main animal species and edible grasses that are suitable as food without ignoring that some plants in our desert are venomous and a few animals are poisonous. Entomophagy is also seriously taken in consideration in food procurement, as eggs, larvae, pupae and adults of certain insect species have been eaten by man since prehistoric times and continue to be an item of the human nutrition in modern times.

Conclusion: what is important is to learn the habits and behavioral patterns of classes of animals to which the soldier is exposed in the desert, and use them as food, if needed, in order to survive and fight especially with the advent of the cross-border terrorism.