Survey on modern medicine in Madagascar compared to traditional medicine

16/11/2018. For sure, traditional medicine still has its place in Madagascar, between tambavy, rano mena and other barks. At the same time, science and medicine do not stop evolving either, offering us promises of a better life in this world. As a result, many people are divided on the question: which medicine is really effective, traditional or modern?

Of course everyone has their own point of view on this and to set the record straight, so we’ve put together this survey for you to get an overview of the subject. Friends and readers, enjoy reading!

The Issue of Trust and Perceived Effectiveness

We interviewed 975 people in this survey. When asked about their confidence in traditional medicine, 34% of them answered with a small “yes, a little”, while 31% said they had total faith in these practices. On the other hand, 17% do not trust traditional medicine at all, and 9% admit to being circumspect and not really trusting it. Finally, 8% have no opinion.

As for Western medicine, 61% trust it completely and 27% trust it only a little. 4% do not really trust it and only 1% do not trust it at all. Here, 6% say they have no opinion.

When asked about the perceived effectiveness of traditional medicine, 38% of those surveyed said they were fairly convinced of its effectiveness and 29% were totally convinced. Another 17% are convinced that it is ineffective and 13% do not really find it effective.

On the other hand, 56% of respondents find modern medicine totally effective, 35% think it is quite effective, 6% not really and 1% not at all effective.

How do people heal themselves?

The survey showed that a majority of the people interviewed, 70%, treat themselves only with modern western medicine, while only 8% use traditional medicine exclusively. 20% use both.

Traditional medicine, a practice inherited from our ancestors, is therefore still used today. What could be the reasons for this? For 55% of practitioners, it is because traditional medicine cures better than its western counterpart. For 22% again, it is because this method involves fewer risks and side effects: it is seen as being more respectful of the body. 13% of those questioned then choose this option simply because they find it is the cheapest and 8%, finally, do it under obligation: they are just forced to go through the “herbs and infusions” box to treat themselves!

And what’s the spending like?

In general, 45% of the respondents spend 20,000 ariary and less to treat themselves when they are sick. The next highest expenditure is between 20,001 and 40,000 Ariary for 31%, between 40,001 and 60,000 Ariary for 10%, and between 60,001 and 80,000 Ariary for 4%.

Those who spend between 80,001 and 100,000 ariary account for the next 2%, as do those who spend between 100,001 and 120,000 ariary and those who spend more than 200,000 ariary. Finally, those spending between 100,001 and 160,000 Ariary and those spending more than 200,000 Ariary account for 3% of the respondents.

Now, there is the case of interviewees who only treat themselves with traditional medicine. In this, 40% spend up to 20,000 ariary, 37% between 20,001 and 40,000 ariary and 8% between 40,001 and 60,000 ariary. After that, there are those for whom the bill is usually between 60,001 and 80,000 ariary (5%) and between 80,001 and 100,000 ariary (4%).

Finally, we have 3% who spend between 100,001 and 120,000 ariary and, directly, 1% who spend more than 200,000 ariary to treat themselves in the traditional way (waaaahhh).

What we can learn from this survey on modern and traditional medicine

While 61% of our panel have total confidence in modern medicine, 31% are totally on the side of traditional medicine. Similarly for effectiveness, modern medicine still has the advantage, as 56% of those questioned think it is totally effective, compared to “only” 29% for traditional medicine. This surely explains the fact that 70% of the respondents turn to modern medicine alone, compared to 8% opposite.

Well, it’s true, one fifth of the interviewees, 20%, use both medicines when they are sick. I think it’s to heal faster or to limit the side effects of one while taking advantage of the effects of both. On the other hand, it’s already a sign of open-mindedness, because at the moment, with the technical advances, we are more and more suspicious of our ancestors’ practices. However, we must not forget that the molecules contained in medicines (such as berberine) come from the same plants that we consume in ointment or infusion!

Slightly more than half of the people who “consume” traditional medicine, 55%, say they use it because it cures better. Moreover, self-medication in Madagascar is frequent. For my part, I agree more with the 22% who are there because it is less aggressive for the body. From my personal experience, it is true that with traditional medicine, it takes time to heal, but we heal while preventing complications. For example, if you hurt your face, apply some “Vahona” after cleaning the wound. You will see that not only will it heal, but the scar will disappear and your skin will be even softer and clearer than before (real-life experience). Plus, it’s cheaper, as 13% of users also say! Personally, I would have a headache just thinking about the payment if the bill climbs above 30 000 ariary.

So why not do as the Vietnamese do and combine traditional medicine with modernization? Especially since 61% of them think that traditional medicine should really be promoted in Madagascar!

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