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Geospat Health. 2008 Nov;3(1):113-24.

Demographic and health surveillance of mobile pastoralists in Chad: integration of biometric fingerprint identification into a geographical information system.

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  • 1Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, Swiss Tropical Institute, P.O. Box, CH-4002 Basel, Switzerland. daniel.weibel@unibas.ch


There is a pressing need for baseline demographic and health-related data to plan, implement and evaluate health interventions in developing countries, and to monitor progress towards international development goals. However, mobile pastoralists, i.e. people who depend on a livestock production system and follow their herds as they move, remain marginalized from rural development plans and interventions. The fact that mobile people are hard to reach and stay in contact with is a plausible reason why they are underrepresented in national censuses and/or alternative sequential sample survey systems. We present a proof-of-concept of monitoring highly mobile, pastoral people by recording demographic and health-related data from 933 women and 2020 children and establishing a biometric identification system (BIS) based on the registration and identification of digital fingerprints. Although only 22 women, representing 2.4% of the total registered women, were encountered twice in the four survey rounds, the approach implemented is shown to be feasible. The BIS described here is linked to a geographical information system to facilitate the creation of the first health and demographic surveillance system in a mobile, pastoralist setting. Our ultimate goal is to implement and monitor interventions with the "one health" concept, thus integrating and improving human, animal and ecosystem health.

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