Reaching nomadic populations in Northern Nigeria and Kenya
Dr. Victoria Gammino of GID is leading an initiative to improve supplemental polio and routine immunization services in Kenya, Nigeria and other African countries with significant mobile populations. Nomadic pastoralists and other mobile groups such as migratory workers and refugees live beyond the reach of established health care programs that are designed to serve sedentary populations. As a result, these groups are often under-immunized, and out of the reach of existing disease surveillance activities.
In Nigeria and other parts of West Africa, this is of particular concern as communities with under-immunized children can serve as reservoirs for polio virus, and unwittingly contribute to the continued transmission of polio. Working with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency of Nigeria, WHO and CDC’s Field Epidemiology and Lab Training Program, GID has developed an interdisciplinary approach to identify major migrant groups and characterize the seasonal movements of nomadic populations in Northern Nigeria.
GID is also collaborating with the Global Disease Detection program and Kenya’s Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation to devise a strategy specific to Kenya’s unique migrant populations. Borrowing methods from epidemiology, geographic information systems (GIS), and anthropology, GID is designing solutions to improve service provision to these hard-to-reach populations. We are forging important relationships between health care providers and traditional leaders to better understand their views on immunization and link them to essential services. In some areas, this also involves collaboration with animal health providers who are in the unique position to provide critical links between pastoralist animal-herding societies and their non-pastoralist counterparts. This is just one example of how CDC is applying a “One Health” approach to better understand the relationship between humans, animals and their environments to improve health outcomes. Through these efforts, GID and our global partners will be better able to target polio and other immunization services for nomadic and other mobile populations, who are chronically missed by routine and supplementary immunization activities.