In the island nation of Madagascar where access to modern medicine is scarce, the demand for non-pharmaceutical treatment is at its peak.
Last fall, dozens of Malagasy physicians were taught healing osteopathic manipulative medicine techniques by resident DOs participating in an international health elective through Western Michigan University’s Homer Stryker MD School of Medicine.
Sandra Koehn, DO, provided manual medicine training to the Malagasy physicians.
“We taught simple and effective techniques they could use on their own patients,” Dr. Koehn says.
Richard Roach, MD, a faculty member at the WSU Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine says the Malagasy physicians were excited to learn about the new techniques.
“They were ecstatic about it,” he said. “They really enjoyed it.”
The health elective benefits the American physicians and students and the Malagasy physicians. It gives the American health care providers and students the opportunity to see a variety of tropical diseases including malaria, Schistosomiasis, and a myriad of intestinal parasites while the Malagasy physicians receive training on OMM techniques and other topics.
The program partners with Samp An’Asa Loterana Momba Ny Fahasalama (SALFA) which translates to Malagasy Lutheran Church Health Department. The SALFA group contains 150 Malagasy doctors from 25 hospitals and clinics throughout the island.
The students and residents are paired with English-speaking Malagasy physicians and see hospitalized patients and work in an outpatient facility during rotations.
“When you have limited resources, you need an alternative that is actually effective and inexpensive,” Dr. Roach says.