Modern medicine and indigenous health beliefs: malaria control alongside "Sadsana-phee" (animist belief system) in Lao PDR

Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health. 2006 Jul;37(4):622-9.


The major religion in Lao PDR is Buddhism, but many ethnic groups in rural Lao PDR hold an animist belief system called "Sadsana-pee". At the same time, the Bourapar District study site in Khammouane Province, Lao PDR is at high risk of malaria infection. Due to their belief in traditional ways of healing, the promotion of malaria prevention and treatment with modern medicine was not always welcomed by the villagers. Based on the results of questionnaire interviews with 240 heads of households from February to March of 2003, the effect of local beliefs on malaria control activities was discussed. Despite widely available western medicine and widely conducted health education, some people still believe that evil spirits cause malaria and rely on traditional medicine and/or religious ceremonies for treatment. Based on our findings, we recommend that future education and malaria control programs be revised and made sensitive to those people holding indigenous beliefs.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology*
  • Ethnicity / psychology*
  • Family Characteristics
  • Humans
  • Laos
  • Malaria / ethnology
  • Malaria / prevention & control*
  • Medicine, East Asian Traditional
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Religion and Medicine*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires