May 9-16: HSP’s Dr. Fanaye Dadi, a health educator and physician, and two members of the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI), Dr. Eyasu Tigabu, and Mr. Negga Asamene recently traveled to Borena Zone in southern Ethiopia. Borena is home to a large pastoralist population where animals and humans live in close proximity and the zoonotic disease, brucellosis, is highly prevalent due to the local practice of drinking raw milk. HSP, EPHI, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working together to develop a culturally-relevant behavioral intervention to interrupt human brucellosis transmission. At the kickoff meeting with the team in March, it was decided that we needed to conduct a mapping exercise of the local infrastructure, allowing us to utilize existing resources, communication channels, and already trusted networks to deliver the future intervention.
The team visited the woredas (similar to counties in the U.S.) of Arero and Moyale and met with local human and animal health officials, healthcare providers, educators, government leaders, and community members. Standardized questionnaires and open-ended discussions (focus groups) were utilized to identify relevant infrastructure, trusted collaborators, current disease prevention programming, successful messaging strategies, and other relevant information. From the community focus groups, the team learned that the disease is known locally as “milk disease”, “busa”, “selessa”, and “gechssa”. Additionally, the community believes that raw milk is healthier than pasteurized milk, which is considered to be nutritionally dead.
The next step in the process will be to develop and conduct an assessment of the knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) of the community as it pertains to milk disease or brucellosis. Then the intervention can be developed to address the specific gaps identified through the KAP assessment.
Check back regularly for another update of this exciting new project!