Home Institution

Stanford University

Publication Date

Summer 2014

Program Name

Madagascar: Traditional Medicine and Health Care Systems


This project explores the application of individual design to the treatment of patients within the traditional medical system in Madagascar. I hypothesize that traditional medicine has remained prevalent in Madagascar alongside the allopathic system because of its predisposition to human centered, or individual design. Individual design is an increasingly popular approach to designing new technology with the total consumer experience in mind. Instead of focusing solely on functionality, this approach attempts to also address how the consumer experiences a technology physically, emotionally, and socially. When applied to health care, individual design addresses all aspects of how individuals experience illness and treatment so as to customize health care to best suit their specific needs. This approach is particularly beneficial in developing countries like Madagascar, where poverty, geographic isolation, and social factors may greatly impact the illness experiences of individuals. Through informal and formal interviews with both traditional healers and allopathic health care professionals, the researcher attempted to analyze the use of individualized health care in these two systems by assessing the presence of 5 key factors: healer-patient trust, narrative reasoning, financial flexibility, geographic flexibility, and privacy/comfort. The researcher found that although there is evidence of individual design in the traditional medical system, the country is evolving in such a way that this method may no longer differentiate the two residing health care systems.


Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Health Services Administration | Public Health