Health Poverty Action specialises in reaching the most remote and neglected communities, and nomadic pastoralists in the Bale Lowlands of Ethiopia are no exception.
Accessing healthcare is a challenge for families who migrate regularly with livestock. Their problems are compounded by having a low status in the community due to their distinct cultures and traditions.
Understanding the health beliefs and traditions of these unique communities is key to improving health in partnership with them. A comprehensive survey has been carried out to analyse the current situation, interviewing almost 5,000 people!
The role of health education
Among the pastoralists, who have little contact with formal health services, there are a common misperceptions about vital health issues. 90% of those interviewed, such as Ali, believe that HIV can be avoided by only having sex with people who look healthy. Many also believe it can be transmitted through shaking hands, or that it is a curse from Allah for breaking the commandments.
We are also helping to develop health services so that the pastoralists regain trust in them. To enable essential services, this includes building rainwater harvesting schemes so that health workers can access water to clean equipment.