"This experience made me lay aside all my preconceived notions of what I, as a future public health professional, would do when going into to a developing community. I learned that it’s not always reaching for the ideal, but first grasping at the attainable and then working upwards from there."
- Erin Eisenhardt, SUNY Albany School of Public Health & SFS Public Health and Environment Summer '10
In the early 1980s Kenya began a process of privatizing its open grazing land into group ranches. This significant land-use change has forced traditionally nomadic, pastoral peoples, including the Maasai, to adapt to more sedentary agro-pastoral lifestyles that confine them to smaller plots of land. The Maasai, a proud and historically self-sufficient society are now facing many social, political, economic, and environmental challenges. The result has increased their vulnerability to disease and famine, and they frequently rely on relief food and scarce water resources to survive.
This major shift from nomadicism to pastoralism in East Africa has brought about new health problems for the Maasai, including an escalation in sanitation-related and water-borne diseases, infant and childhood disease, and HIV/AIDS. Access to quality health care, both physically and culturally, poses a critical issue for this predominantly rural population. The fact that there are virtually no baseline data on Maasai public health status in southern Kenya adds another dimension to this public health challenge.
FIELD EXPEDITIONS AND EXERCISES
- Visit Maasai villages & group ranches, local health clinics & dispensaries, HIV/Aids clinics, and Amboseli National Park
- Learn about the, socioeconomic, cultural, environmental issues related to public health issues and health care in rural Kenya
- Assess and analyze health issues and report findings and recommendations to key stakeholders and communities of interest
Students live at our Kilimanjaro Bush Camp (KBC) in the remote foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, near the town of Kimana. The camp is nestled within a lush zone of yellow acacia trees with clear undergrowth giving a perfect view of the magnificent vegetation mosaic. Students sleep in thatched-roof bandas, with a main building, or chumba, which houses a dining room, kitchen, and a classroom.