Where there is No Doctor

Where there is no Doctor

A problem I have found with many first-aid manuals, at least in my country, is that they generally assume that an ambulance and/or medical help is always nearby. Obviously after a disaster – or even if you are just tramping in the bush – that may not be the case.

Where there is No Doctor is not a lightweight first-aid book (it is 503 pages long). It is, however, considered by the World Health Organization to be the most widely-used health care manual in the world.

It is perhaps best described by quoting from the introduction:

“This handbook has been written primarily for those who live far from medical centers, in places where there is no doctor. But even where there are doctors, people can and should take the lead in their own health care. So this book is for everyone who cares. It has been written in the belief that:

  1. Health care is not only everyone’s right, but everyone’s responsibility.
  2. Informed self-care should be the main goal of any health program or activity.
  3. Ordinary people provided with clear, simple information can prevent and treat most common health problems in their own homes—earlier, cheaper, and often better than can doctors.
  4. Medical knowledge should not be the guarded secret of a select few, but should be freely shared by everyone.
  5. People with little formal education can be trusted as much as those with a lot. And they are just as smart.
  6. Basic health care should not be delivered, but encouraged.

Clearly, a part of informed self-care is knowing one’s own limits. Therefore guidelines are included not only for what to do, but for when to seek help. The book points out those cases when it is important to see or get advice from a health worker or doctor. But because doctors or health workers are not always nearby, the book also suggests what to do in the meantime—even for very serious problems.”

Understandably, in order to prevent out-of-date or altered editions of their publications from being accessed online, the non-profit publishers do not allow their manuals to be posted on other sites. However, Hesperian do allow each chapter of this classic manual to be downloaded for free from http://hesperian.org/books-and-resources/.

After you have evaluated some of the individual chapters, the complete manual may be purchased in PDF form, at the time of writing for US$7.95. It is also available in eBook format for: Kindle, Nook, Kobo or iBook.

You will note from the above link that Hesperian offer many other health-related publications which may be of considerable use during a disaster scenario: Where There Is No Dentist, Where Women Have No Doctor, A Book for Midwives, A Community Guide to Environmental Health, HIV, Health and Your Community, Sanitation and Cleanliness, and Water for Life.

About Hesperian

Beginning with the development of the classic Where There Is No Doctor in the mountains of Mexico in the early 1970s, Hesperian Health Guides has developed and distributed health materials now available in over 80 languages. They work with hundreds of partners who help them update and field test materials to ensure they are accurate and easy-to-use. They take all this work to scale with a paid staff of under 25 and an ever-increasing number of volunteers, currently at over 200. Hesperian is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and is supported by the generous gifts of individual and institutional donors. Other important revenue streams come from the sale of books, resources, and digital tools.

Their resources are used by community health workers, midwives, Peace Corps volunteers, missionaries, teachers, health educators and community organizers to improve health around the world. Hundreds of government agencies and nonprofit organizations rely on Hesperian Health Guides to provide practical and comprehensive information that moves communities to take action on a wide range of health issues – from disability rights to women’s health, from protecting local ecosystems to training the next generation of health workers.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *