AccueilPast, present and future of healthcare and medicine in Madagascar: between tradition and modernity

Past, present and future of healthcare and medicine in Madagascar: between tradition and modernity

Special issue of Health, Culture and Society electronic journal

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Publié le mardi 04 mars 2014 par Luigia Parlati


The electronic journal Health, Culture and Society will focus on Madagascar's traditional and modern medicine in its November 2014 issue. He is calling for any papers which may fall under the subject: Past, present and future of Health and medicine in Madagascar: between tradition and modernity. 



With 60.5% of the population living with less than a dollar a day, 57% of the population living in state of extreme poverty and being ranked as 151 out of 187 countries in terms of Human Development Index, the Indian Ocean’s island of Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world. Its GNP per capita is estimated to 960 $ while the global average is evaluated to 10,869 $. The poverty ratio is estimated to 76.5. In this context, the state of the public health is a major issue. While the 20 millions Malagasy average health status is considered better compared to those in the sub-Saharan African region, it remains widely inferior to international standards. In 2010, life expectancy at birth was estimated to 65, while the global average is 68, adult mortality rate remains high - 236 compared to the global average of 176 - , and 100,000 children are dying every year.

Nonetheless, Madagascar is also a famous country for its rich biodiversity. According to the World Bank statistics, the island is “one of the world’s few mega-biodiversity countries in which 80% of its plant species are endemic”. These resources contain high potential assets for public health development. A quarter of 12,000 endemic plants are currently said to be used as medicine. Historically, Malagasy people have been using this natural richness to prevent or cure various illnesses. In the ancient times, when diseases were partially supposed to be the effect of some “ody” (charms), various plants and herbs were used to fight against them. Hence, in the Malagasy official language, the word used for “medicine” (fanafody), originates from fanafak’ody, which literally means remover of charms.

However, following the introduction of Christianity, as well as public education, in the 1870s, the traditional perception of health and illness treatment progressively changed towards an increasingly rationalized approach. Traditional remedy was not however totally left. Thus, since the introduction of modern public healthcare through the instauration of the first medical school in 1880, Madagascar people have been living the complex relation – cohabitation and confrontation - of Western and traditional medicine. Nowadays, two thirds of the Malagasy population feel more confident using traditional medicines. Only 55% of people with illness visit official health centres. In addition, only 25% of those who chose modern medicine are satisfied in terms of accessibility.

Main themes

A critical analysis of the issue of health and medical care in Madagascar is then pertinent, considering:

- the historical, traditional and unconscious aspects of health’s perception by the Malagasy people, the undiscovered potentiality and/or the limitations of traditional medicine, and

- the spread of modern healthcare and its advantages, which however are not to be dissociated with its limitations and the issue of inaccessibility, given the socio-economical situation.

It is important to explore about the issue of cohabitation between the two areas in order to fulfil population’s health needs in the present and the future.

The electronic journal Health, Culture and Society ( is calling for any papers which may fall under the subject:

Past, present and future of Health and medicine in Madagascar: between tradition and modernity.

Willing to promote critical studies, to disseminate important contemporary research and to act as an international podium for the exchange of new ideas, strategies and practices, the journal is geared towards an inter-disciplinary approach to issues of health, culture and society.

It invites contributions from a diversity of fields which can reflect the very real developments in ideas that shape our modern understandings of health, and how cultural and social factors are important to its paradigm.

The article will be published in the November 2014 issue of the review.

Articles in the call can then address – but are not limited to - the problems of:

- historical perception of health, illness-healing process throughout Madagascar history,

- the advent of the modern medicine and its impact in Malagasy society,

- cohabitation/confrontation between traditional and modern medicine in historical and/or contemporary context,

- forms of alternatives to modern medicine in historical and contemporary context (this can include new forms of religious healings),

- undiscovered opportunity/relevance of traditional medicine in contemporary context,

- advantages/limitations of modern medicine in historical and contemporary context,

- future perspective for health amelioration and medicine performance in Madagascar,

Submission guidelines

Contributions from academicians, Masters or Doctorate students, practitioners, activists, workers from non-governmental and international organizations, journalists and researchers interested in the issue of health are welcomed.

Articles would be preferably in English. Articles in French will be accepted if the article is considered as highly relevant.

Articles should sent before July 31st 2014 to the journal.

For information, please send an email to

Scientific committee


Dr. David Reggio, Unochapeco


  • Dr. Seye Abimbola, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Abuja, Nigeria
  • Prof. Dr. Paulo Duarte Amarante, National school of Public Health (ENSP), The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil
  • Dr. Katie Aubrecht, Mount Saint Vincent University, Nova Scotia Centre on Aging / President Elect of the Canadian Disability Studies Association
  • Mr. Alex Bangirana, CODESRIA: Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa
  • Dr. Dominique Behague, Department of Anthropology, Brunel University, United Kingdom / Institute of Tropical Medicine, UCL, London
  • Dr. Upendra Bhojani, IPH: Institute of Public Health, Bangalore, India
  • Prof. Dr. Howard Caygill, CRMEP / F.A.S.S, Kingston University, United Kingdom / Paris VIII
  • Dr. Sarah Dorrington, The Maudsley Hospital, Institute of Psychiatry, United Kingdom
  • Prof. Dr. Carlos Estellita-Lins, ICICT, Health, Science and Technology Institute, The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil
  • Prof.Dr. Monica Greco, Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths College, University of London
  • Prof. Dr. Siri Hettige, Department of Sociology, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka,
  • Dr. Bernard Jouanjean, School of Preventive Medicine, College de France, France
  • Dr. Richard Nisbett, School of Public and Global Health, University of South Florida
  • Dr. Mauricio Novello, Puy Psychiatric Hospital, France
  • Dr. Josefien van Olmen, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium
  • Dr. Paulo Tarso Peixoto, Center for Psycho-Social Services (CAPS), Macae, RJ, Brazil
  • Dr. Odilon Poli, Directorate, Unochapeco, Santa Catarina, Brazil
  • Dr. NS Prashanth, IPH: Institute of Public Health, Bangalore, India
  • Dr. Laavanyan Michael Ratnapalan, Center for South Asian Studies, Cambridge University, United Kingdom / Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea
  • Dr. Meg Stalcup, Center for Biological Futures, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center / Department of Anthropology, University of Washington
  • Dr. Stéphane Verguet, Department of Global Health, University of Washington



  • jeudi 31 juillet 2014


  • Madagascar, medicine, tradition, modern, colonialism, christianity


  • Contacts
    courriel : specialmadagascar [at] gmail [dot] com

URLS de référence

Source de l'information

  • Rian'aina Rabarihoela
    courriel : specialmadagascar [at] gmail [dot] com

Pour citer cette annonce

« Past, present and future of healthcare and medicine in Madagascar: between tradition and modernity », Appel à contribution, Calenda, Publié le mardi 04 mars 2014,