Home Institution

George Washington University

Publication Date

Summer 2014

Program Name

Madagascar: Traditional Medicine and Health Care Systems


Unbiased literature regarding the strengths of traditional birth attendants is lacking. While many international organizations have published data regarding the improving success rates of allopathic interventions, there has been no acknowledgement or discussion of the qualities that keep traditional birth attendants in practice. This study has aimed to identify the distinct values of traditional medicine that contrast most allopathic healthcare practices. Through informal interviews with three traditional birth attendants and one allopathic provider in the rural region of Andasibe, Madagascar, the researcher unearthed some of the key differences between these practices' patient care before, during, and after childbirth. Results suggest that traditional birth attendants distinctly succeed in three main areas: a spiritual dimension to their skills, a highly personalized provision of care, and the embodiment of the cultural emphasis on reciprocity. With further research on these distinct values of traditional birth attendants, there may exist an opportunity to educate allopathic providers on the elements that their practices are lacking. Moreover, the development of a balanced body of knowledge of the different strengths of allopathic and traditional medicine practice may in turn lead to a stronger, more integrated healthcare system.


Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Health Services Research | Maternal and Child Health


Article Location