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The benefits of ‘One Health’ for pastoralists in Africa

By Helena Greter, Vreni Jean-Richard, Lisa Crump, Mahamat Béchir, Idriss O. Alfaroukh, Esther Schelling, Bassirou Bonfoh and Jakob Zinsstag


‘One health’ is particularly suited to serve mobile pastoralists. Dinka pastoralists in Sudan inspired Calvin Schwabe to coin the term ‘one medicine’, indicating that there is no difference in paradigm between human and veterinary medicine. Our contemporary definition of ‘one health’ is any added value in terms of improved health of humans and animals or financial savings or environmental services resulting from a closer cooperation of human and animal health sectors. Here we present a summary of ‘one health’ studies with mobile pastoralists in Africa which were done in research partnership, demonstrating such an added value. Initial joint human and animal health studies revealed higher livestock vaccination coverage than in the pastoralist community, leading to joint animal and human vaccination intervention studies which demonstrated a better access to primary health care services for pastoralists in Chad. Further simultaneous animal and human serological studies showed that camel breeding was associated with human Q-fever seropositivity. In Borana communities in Ethiopia, human cases of  Mycobacterium bovis infection could be related to strains isolated from cattle. A challenge remained with regard to how to assess vaccination coverage in mobile populations. With the advent of mobile phones, health and demographic surveillance could be established for mobile pastoralists and their animals. This presents vast possibilities for surveillance and control of human and animal diseases. Pastoralists prefer a ‘one health’ approach and therefore contribute toward the validation of this concept by showing real added value of the cooperation between human and animal health services

Topics: One Health, Health services, zoonoses, mobile pastoralists, Veterinary medicine, SF600-1100
Publisher: AOSIS
Year: 2014
DOI identifier: 10.4102/ojvr.v81i2.726
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