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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 October 2015

Rita Isabel Henderson*
Department of Community Health Sciences, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
Jennifer Hatfield
Department of Community Health Sciences, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
Susan Kutz
Department of Ecosystem Public Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
Saningo Olemshumba
Endulen Hospital, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
Frank Van Der Meer
Department of Ecosystem Public Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
Mange Manyama
Department of Anatomy, Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences, Mwanza, Tanzania
Sheri Bastien
Department of Community Health Sciences, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
1Corresponding author. Email:


Records at the Endulen Hospital in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA), Tanzania, reveal that soil-transmitted helminth infections and protozoa are consistently in the top ten diagnoses for Maasai pastoralists, indicating a significant public health concern. Nevertheless, Maasai pastoralist adaptations to life in close proximity to livestock and to unreliable access to water raise important questions about experiences of, and resiliency to, parasitic infections. Though these infections are particularly prevalent among youth in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), a focus on resiliency highlights local capacity to recover from and prevent illness. For instance, how is human parasitism perceived and experienced among communities displaying behaviours that studies have associated with transmission of diarrhoeal diseases, such as open defecation? Among these communities, how is parasitism seen to impact the health and development of children? And, what resources are available to endure or mitigate this heavy disease burden among affected communities? This study draws on formative research carried out in May 2014 in anticipation of an innovative school-based and youth-driven water, sanitation and hygiene education intervention rolled out in two boarding schools in the NCA in subsequent months. The initiative is grounded in a One Health approach to health promotion, drawing on partnerships in medicine, public health and veterinary medicine to appreciate the unique interactions between humans, animals and the environment that shape well-being among pastoralist communities. Qualitative data generated through group discussions with secondary school youth (n=60), Maasai teachers (n=6) and a women’s group (n=8) in the NCA convey existing knowledge of the prevalence, prevention and treatment of human parasitism. An underlying principle of the larger initiative is to engage youth as creative agents of change in developing and sustaining locally relevant health promotion strategies. Findings highlight practical knowledge around certain ‘neglected tropical diseases’, namely helminths, among pastoralist communities in the NCA, in turn feeding into the development of the science fair and related interventions.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press, 2015 

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