High prevalence of anaemia in pastoral communities in Kilimanjaro region: malnutrition is a primary cause among Maasai ethnic group

By Charles Mwanziva, Modibo Daou, Humphrey Mkali, Alutu Masokoto, Erasto Mbugi, Seif Shekalaghe, Frank Mosha, Jaffu Chilongola


Burden of anaemia is widespread, and more pronounced in the sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria has for so long been associated with the prevalence of anaemia in most of the areas in Tanzania. Understanding the disease distribution and associated risk factors are important for interventional planning. Haemoglobin assessment was done during the four cross section surveys from June 2006 to March 2008 in which 2434 participants from two villages were examined. All households in the villages were mapped by the use of global position system. Multivariate and univariate regression analyses were used for evaluation of ecological factors for anaemia. Anaemia prevalence was heterogeneous between ethnic groups found in the village (Maasai being mostly affected OR= 2.58; CI 95% 1.91 – 3.47, P< 0.001). Anaemia affected mostly the   young ages and female residence. Malnutrition was a major problem affecting this population as evidenced by the low body mass index (BMI) in majority of the residents. Due to the low prevalence of malaria in the study area (1.5%), the contribution of malaria to the prevalence of anaemia was considered insignificant. Socio-economic and cultural factors are important factors that can lead to high anaemia prevalence rates among pastoral communities, in particular the Maasai ethnic group. Apart from the immediate, disease mediated anaemia, these socio-economic factors should be well considered as fundamental when planning for interventions in the area, if such interventions are to be successful.


Key Words : Anaemia, Maasai, Body Mass Index, Malnutrition.

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