A Comparison of Health Complaints of Settled and Nomadic Turkana Men

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Abstract

This article examines the health complaints of settled and nomadic Ngisonyoka Turkana of northwest Kenya. Samples of 152 nomadic and 124 settled men, aged 14 and over, were surveyed about their health status. The general pattern of disease reported concurs with previous studies of health among Turkana; that is, the primary complaints are respiratory tract infections and eye infections. The settled Turkana reported more severe complaints and higher rates of infectious disease than the nomads, including a significantly higher frequency of cold with cough, eye infection, and chest infection. Although the settled males as a group had slightly higher body mass index and other measures of body fat than the nomadic group, none of these indicators of body composition were predictive of health complaints. Observed differences in health patterns are possibly related to differences in dietary composition, exposure to pathogens associated with population density and environmental pollution, physical activity patterns, and psychosocial stress.