Self-medication in Madagascar: are they playing “doctor”?

24/04/2019. Health is one of the most important topics for us at Stileex Post. Rumours have been circulating for some time that the people of Tananarivo are (still) looking for the easy way out, mainly because of the current cost of living. Indeed, these rumours came after the number of people in the capital of Madagascar treating their ills themselves increased. So, in order to be fixed on the veracity of self-medication in Madagascar, we launched a survey on the subject. The objective is to inform you about what pushes Tananarivians to take medication without medical advice. Find in this article, the results of our surveys on 893 people in Antananarivo.

In Madagascar, we are aware of the danger of self-medication

We have seen in previous surveys conducted by Stileex Post that the people of Tananarivo are taking good care of their health. Apart from dental hygiene which has become a real daily ritual, there is still that small 7% of Tananarivians who do not consider self-medication to be dangerous. Even if a large majority of the capital’s citizens, 92%, are fully aware of the dangers brought by self-medication.

Tananarivians don't go to the doctor very often
Tananarivians don’t go to the doctor very often

Aware of the dangers perhaps! But it is rather frustrating and scary to see that 73% of Tananarivians do not go to see a doctor before taking or buying medicine even for small ailments (headaches, stomach aches, colds, etc.) and only 21% do. This is another thing for more serious illnesses (flu, malaria, diarrhea, etc.). Today, 55% approach a specialist for treatment. But there are still 43% who don’t want to (or can’t) go to the doctor. They therefore resort to self-medication.

Family advice first

The results in our hands are no coincidence. But they may be related to the rhythm of life in Antananarivo today. In fact, before going to buy medicines, Tananarivians first turn to family (53%), rather than to specialists such as pharmacists (31%). Of course, even if it is only to ask for advice, it is always preferable to get good information from people who are capable in the field of health.

The Tananarivian prefers to listen to the family rather than to his doctor.
The Tananarivian prefers to listen to the family rather than to his doctor.

Essential nutrients are the most purchased

Today, 71% of the Tananarivians surveyed are in the habit of asking their doctor before taking medication. While the 28% rely on their instincts to the point of self-medication. According to the data collected, citizens in the capital are taking vitamins or supplements without even consulting a doctor. Indeed, essential nutrients are the most purchased, without medical advice of course. See for yourself:

  • vitamins: 41%
  • calcium: 40%
  • magnesium: 14%
  • iron: 4%
  • complex: 1%

Tananarivians still go to the pharmacy

So to avoid self-medication, most Tananarivians (83%) still go to the pharmacy to take their medication. But there are still 16% who can do nothing else but buy in the local grocery stores or just not take medication. Fortunately, the residents of the Ville des Mille (93%) do not take expired medication. This is already a good thing!

Most citizens still go to the drugstore
Most citizens still go to the drugstore

Conclusion on the practice of self-medication by the Tananarivians

In short, Tananarivians are well aware of the danger of self-medication. But until today, no other solution is possible for the inhabitants of Antananarivo. The rumours that the citizens of the City of a Thousand are making in the easy way may not be so wrong. They are lazy to go to the doctor or to a pharmacy because of the price of medicines and consultations, even if they are insured. Of course, listening to the elders is part of the Malagasy culture, in any field. But seeing these many figures, perhaps there should be incentives from the authorities so that Tananarivians no longer practice self-medication. And of course, the prices of consultations and medicines need to be reviewed.


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