Examine how history, geography, and demographics shape traditional and allopathic healthcare, and learn how communities throughout Madagascar practice plant-based and traditional medicine.
Learn about healthcare treatment, diagnosis, access, education, and training in urban and rural Madagascar.
Through discussions with leading academics and allopathic doctors, explore alternative and allopathic healthcare practices in Madagascar and globally.
Discover how culture, economics, politics, and geography influence Malagasy approaches to healthcare.
Through lectures, educational excursions, and cultural interaction, examine topics including Malagasy cultural assumptions and practices, ethical issues in healthcare delivery, and postcolonial history and contemporary Malagasy politics as applied to healthcare policy and delivery
Explore Antananarivo and beyond.
Madagascar’s capital is a beautiful city built on hills, with distinct neighborhoods, bustling open-air markets, intriguing paths, and alluring staircases that wind their way among the hills. Commonly referred to as “Tana,” the city boasts an interesting mix of 19th-century Malagasy and more recent European influences evident in its layout, architecture, economy, attitude, and atmosphere. This program also includes time in provincial areas, allowing you to see different facets of Malagasy society and culture. In the rural town of Andasibe, you will engage with local residents, including traditional healers and allopathic medical doctors, at rural public hospitals. You will learn more about ethnobotany, home and folk remedies, and the extent to which health beliefs are grounded in traditional religion.
Experience the diversity of Malagasy communities.
The Malagasy people are extremely heterogeneous due to their diverse roots in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Today, the Malagasy are categorized into 18 official ethnic groups, but many distinctions between various groups remain unclear or subject to debate.
Explore unique natural environments.
Madagascar is well known for its exceptional ecological diversity. The island is home to extraordinary flora and fauna—much of it unique to this country—which plays a distinctive role in traditional healthcare practices.
Enhance your French and learn Malagasy.
There is no language prerequisite for this program. All students learn Malagasy. If you have a background in French, you will have many opportunities to apply those language skills.
Critical Global Issue of Study
None, although students with a background in French will have many opportunities to use their French language skills.
Key Topics of Study
Key Topics of Study
- Current healthcare models in Madagascar and the social and political dimensions of healthcare delivery
- Postcolonial history and contemporary Malagasy politics as applied to healthcare policy and delivery
- The strong links between global healthcare challenges and economic, social, environmental, and political factors
- Ethnobotany, home and folk remedies, and the extent to which health beliefs are grounded in cultural and religious practices of local communities
The Social and Political Dimensions of Health and the Healthcare Practice in Madagascar seminars are conducted in English and provide an introduction to the cultural, political, and socioeconomic contexts of healthcare as well as healthcare practices in Madagascar. Students will visit rural and urban allopathic healthcare centers, herbalist markets, schools of medicine, and medical research institutions as well as other historically, culturally, and thematically relevant sites.
Coursework in Malagasy language provides students with the foundational and essential tools required for daily use. Students with a background in French will have many opportunities to apply their language skills in Antananarivo.
The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term. The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.
- Social and Political Dimensions of Health – syllabus
- (IPBH3000 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- This course provides an introduction to the cultural, political, and socioeconomic contexts of healthcare in Madagascar, allowing students to understand Malagasy cultural assumptions and practices as they relate to healthcare. The course will also explore the role of post-colonial and contemporary Malagasy politics as applied to healthcare policy and delivery, and introduce students to major economic activities in the formal and informal sectors as they relate to healthcare and access to health systems.
- Malagasy – syllabus
- (MALA1003 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- Emphasis on beginning speaking and comprehension skills through classroom and field-based instruction. In addition to a focus on oral proficiency, the course integrates the program theme of traditional medicine and healthcare systems with Malagasy language learning. Formal instruction is augmented by language practice with host families during homestays.
- Healthcare Practice in Madagascar – syllabus
- (IPBH3500 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- This course is an examination of healthcare practices in urban and rural settings to understand traditional and allopathic healthcare approaches. Students will explore ethical issues in healthcare delivery and the roles of healthcare delivery professionals and informal healthcare practice in overall healthcare issues in the different systems.
Program in a minute-ish
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
Excursions on this program provide you with deeper insight into the many facets of healthcare delivery in Madagascar. This includes the relationship between cultural beliefs and health delivery; national health policies and their implementation via existing government structures such as ministries and schools; nutrition and sanitation challenges; and the proliferation of non-formal education (such as folktales, stories, and taboos) in healthcare practices. You may:
- Experience the sublime sunset at the Avenue of Baobabs during an excursion to the southwestern coastal town of Morondava.
- Visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Tsingy de Bemaraha in Bekopaka in search of the sacred Hasina plant.
- Take a nature walk in Andasibe National Park to learn about medicinal plants and observe lemurs, including the indri, the largest lemur in the world.
- Visit allopathic healthcare centers, local herbalist markets, the University of Antananarivo Pharmacology Department, the Institut Malgache de Recherche Appliqué, a traditional medicine research center, and the Societé de Transformation Malgache et d'Exportation.
Faculty and Staff
Faculty and Staff
Nat Quansah, PhD, Academic Director
A botanist by training and an ethnobotanist by profession, Nat has a PhD in pteridology from the University of London, Goldsmiths College, and an MSc in botany, a BSc Honors, and a diploma in education from the University of Cape Coast, Ghana. He has been a lecturer with SIT in Madagascar and has served as academic director for this program since 2008. He also served as academic director for the SIT program Tanzania: Zanzibar—Coastal Ecology and Natural Resource Management in 2013–14. Nat researches, advises, and lectures on a wide range of topics including integrated healthcare, traditional medicine, biological and cultural diversity conservation, sustainable resource use, and rural development. He has developed an integrated healthcare system approach to healthcare development and bio-cultural diversity conservation. His work has consistently involved local and international public education through radio and TV documentaries and popular/scientific publications. He was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2000.
Patricia Randrianavony, PhD, Program Assistant
A pharmacologist and aesthetician, Patricia is head of the Department of Animal Physiology and Pharmacology at the University of Antananarivo, where she earned a DEA and a PhD in pharmacology. She assists in academic coordination, provides overall program support, and occasionally serves as advisor to SIT students whose ISPs involve laboratory investigation of medicinal plants used in traditional medicine. A recipient of the Prince Bernhard Scholarship for Nature Conservation in 1993, Patricia has worked with rural communities in Madagascar and Uganda on health and conservation issues. She served as an advisor to Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Uganda when it was developing a pharmacology laboratory and rural healthcare program.
Fana Randimbivololona, PhD, Academic Assistant/Coordinator and Lecturer
A pharmacologist and pharmacokineticist, Fana holds a PhD in pharmaceutics application from the Ecole de Pharmacie at the Université Catholique de Louvain en Woluwé in Brussels, Belgium. On this program, he teaches standardization techniques of traditional remedies. As a senior lecturer and researcher at the University of Antananarivo, Fana established and is director of the Laboratoire de Pharmacologie Générale, de Pharmacocinétique et de Cosmétologie. He is responsible for the postgraduate program of the Département de Physiologie Animale et Pharmacologie. He has served as the general director and secretary general of Madagascar’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.
José Narcisse Randria, MD, Lecturer
José is a medical doctor and researcher at the Centre National d’Application des Recherches Pharmaceutique in the Département d’Expérimentation Clinique of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. He holds an MD from the School of Medicine and a DEA in pharmacology from the Département de Physiologie Animale et Pharmacologie, Faculty of Science, both at the University of Antananarivo. He is currently researching toxicology and pharmacology of two plants used in traditional medicine.
Martine Razanadraibe, Urban Homestay Coordinator
Martine is responsible for coordinating the program’s urban homestays. She has lived in Ivandry for more than 35 years and is the wife of the former president of Fokontany of Ivandry. A retired social worker, Martine still volunteers with the Ministry of Health and the Red Cross Society on issues involving mothers and children such as vaccination and HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.
Lucie Razafindramiadana, Rural Homestay Coordinator
Lucie coordinates the program’s rural homestays. A native of Andasibe, Lucie holds a general certificate in English and has taught English at a public college. She is an environmental tour guide and a member of Mitsinjo, a local NGO involved in rural development and local environmental and conservation activities.
Other lecturers for this program include:
Bernardin Victor Rabarijaona, PhD
Bernardin teaches Malagasy social and cultural anthropology with respect to traditional medicine. He is a senior lecturer and researcher at the Facultés des Lettres et des Sciences Humaines, Département des Lettres et Langues Malgache, at the University of Antananarivo, where he established the department’s anthropology laboratory. He has been a consultant for SIT since 1992 and serves as an ISP advisor to SIT students.
Herlyne Ramihantaniarivo, MD
A practicing physician, Herlyne is director general at the Ministry of Public Health, Focal Point of Madagascar for Global Funds, and coordinator of Project CURE. On this program, she lectures on access to healthcare, healthcare funding, and poverty and its relation to healthcare. In addition to her MD from the University of Antananarivo School of Medicine, she earned an MPH in health management from the University of Hawai‘i. She is founder and president of the Association Zahana, which is involved in rural development programs including the provision of potable water. She is a member of the Cercle Chrétien de la Santé and the East-West Center Alumni-Hawai‘i.
Nata is a traditional healer who specializes in mother and child health. During the rural homestay period, Nata teaches the use of plants and massage techniques for the prevention and treatment of diseases.
Telovavy is a traditional healer and a reninjaza (traditional birth attendant). A native of Andasibe II, she is known for her use of medicinal plants in the prevention and treatment of diseases, as well as her involvement in maternal health issues in the Andasibe-Moramanga commune. She lectures on the use of medicinal plants in traditional medicine.
The healers and families and doctors who welcomed my fellow students and me into their lives made it possible for me to feel that I now have a deeper understanding
The healers and families and doctors who welcomed my fellow students and me into their lives made it possible for me to feel that I now have a deeper understanding of not only healthcare practice in Madagascar but the broader implications of healthcare systems around the globe.
The homestay is an integral part of the SIT experience. During your homestay, you’ll become a member of a local family, sharing meals with them, joining them for special occasions, talking with them in their language, and experiencing the host country through their eyes. Homestay placements are arranged by a local coordinator who carefully screens and approves each family. Students frequently cite the homestay as the highlight of their program. Read more about SIT homestays.
Experience contemporary Malagasy perspectives and cultural values through a three-and-a-half-week homestay in Tana, Madagascar’s capital. You will be exposed to an array of urban issues and will witness the influence of globalization and other international forces, including the media, business, and capitalism, on middle-class Malagasy life. You will also learn the importance of family in Malagasy culture and witness ancestor veneration.
You will also see the deep connections urban Malagasy have to their ancestral villages and the importance of clan in Malagasy culture and how these affect society and politics in Madagascar today.
During 10 days in rural Andasibe, you will experience village interconnectedness and witness Malagasy society in a rural setting. You also will experience the challenges facing rural Malagasy families and communities, including access to healthcare, education, and government services. During this part of the program, you will also have the chance to engage with Malagasy peers in the Pharmacology Department during lectures; discussions with medical doctors, traditional medicine healers, and specialists; and visits to health centers and parks.
Cost and Scholarships
Cost and Scholarships
SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.
SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding for the term during which they are studying with SIT. This award can be applied to any SIT program. Qualified students must complete the scholarship portion of their application. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
- Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
- The Madagascar healthcare system in both urban and rural areas and the effect of geography as well as cultural, economic, and political dimensions on health delivery
- Malagasy cultural assumptions and practices
- Ethical issues in healthcare delivery
- Postcolonial and contemporary Malagasy politics as applied to healthcare policy and delivery
- Traditional medicine practices in Madagascar
- Basic introduction to everyday spoken Malagasy
- All educational excursions to locations such as rural and urban allopathic healthcare centers, local herbalist markets, the University of Antananarivo’s School of Medicine, the University of Antananarivo Faculty of Science’s Pharmacology Department, Institut Malgache de Recherche Appliqué, SoTraMex (Societé de Transformation Malgache et d'Exportation), and Homeopharma (homeopathy, phytotherapy, and aromatherapy)
- Health insurance throughout the entire program period
Room & Board: $1,475
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
- All accommodations during the entire program period.
- All homestays (three and a half weeks in Antananarivo and 10 days in rural Andasibe)
- All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend, or through the homestay.
Estimated Additional Costs:
International Airfare to Program Launch Site
International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.
Books & Supplies: $ 50
International Phone: Each student must bring a phone with them to their program.
Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.
Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.