Health and sanitary status in 1970 of Tubu nomads dwelling in Northeastern Niger



Magnaval JF, Oosterbosch C, Mandl M; MABN group.


Mil Med Res. 2014 Dec 2;1:25. doi: 10.1186/2054-9369-1-25. 2014.


BACKGROUND: The Tubu are nomadic people who live in remote parts of the central
Sahara, primarily in the Tibesti massif (Chad), and in both Northeastern Niger and
Southern Libya. No data about the Tubu’s health and sanitary status are currently
available. METHODS: In 1970, the “Mission Anthropologique Belge au Niger” (MABN)
investigated a Tubu tribe named Broaya that lived on the northeastern rim of the
Tenere desert. One hundred and fifty-one adult volunteers were investigated. The
environmental fauna of medical importance was also studied. RESULTS: Albeit
43 year-old, these results have not been previously published. The estimated age of
death for fathers was approximately 56 years, and that for mothers was 60 years. The
overall perinatal mortality rate was 232%, the overall infant mortality rate was
153%, and the overall child mortality rate was 99%. The physical examination found 6
cases of blindness (4.0%). Five subjects presented with an elevated blood pressure
(3.3%), and 5 (3.3%) displayed an abnormal thoracic auscultation evocative of
tuberculosis or of an acute lung infection. In the field, no blood-fluke eggs were
found in the urine samples. The blood thin films and stool samples were preserved
then subsequently examined in Toulouse. The search for blood parasites was negative.
Three subjects (2%) passed E. histolytica/E. dispar cysts in stools, 16 (10.6%) were
parasitized with Giardia sp. and 4 (2.65%) were parasitized with Hymenolepis nana.
Two specimens of scorpions captured in the camp were subsequently identified as
belonging to the harmful genus Androctonus or Leiurus. An investigation into the
freshwater fauna was conducted in the marshy ponds surrounding the ghost city of
Djado, and no intermediate snail hosts for schistosomiasis haematobium were found.
Larvae and nymphs, of Anopheles hispaniola and of An. multicolor, which are not
efficient vectors for malaria, were collected. CONCLUSIONS: Infection-related
blindness and trachoma, along with acute pulmonary infections and probably
tuberculosis were the major health burden in this tribe. The harsh dry and hot
climate may explain the low prevalence of soil-transmitted protozoan diseases or

Keywords: .

Link/DOI: 10.1186/2054-9369-1-25