What a hell of a week it’s been. Disasters and suffering almost everywhere you look, from north Queensland to Egypt and beyond.
Croakey feels the need for a feel-good Friday moment. Thanks to Rebecca Gordon, a consultant at RaggAhmed, for providing a spot of cheering news about an organisation doing good work.
Sharing health information with those who need it most
Rebecca Gordon writes:
Poor people throughout the world lack basic health care. Often it is too far away or unaffordable. Often those working in community health care in low-income countries don’t have the resources or knowledge to provide effective primary care. Clear, simple guidance that is culturally and locally relevant is essential to support health workers to provide lifesaving services and address the social determinants of health.
Where There Is No Doctor is possibly the most widely used primary health care manual for health workers in low-income countries. The first English edition was published in 1977 and updated last year. It has now been translated into over 100 languages.
It was the first book published by Hesperian, a non-profit publisher of books and newsletters for community-based health care in low-income countries. Hesperian’s publications are developed collaboratively with health workers, communities and medical professionals to ensure they are accessible and locally relevant. They also aim to address the social, economic and political causes of poor health and suggest ways local groups can improve health in their communities.
Hesperian also publish Where There Is No Dentist and manuals on topics including HIV, disabilities, maternal health and water and sanitation. Recently, they’ve responded to the crisis in Haiti by providing free resources in French, Spanish, English and Creole.
All books are available as free downloads.
Where There Is No Doctor inspired the Royal College of Psychiatrists UK to publish Where There is No Psychiatrist a practical manual for primary mental health care particularly in low-income countries.
The Hesperian philosophy is based on the belief that:
- Health is a fundamental right for all people.
- Health information should be shared.
- People can and should take the lead in their own health care.
- Women and men with little or no formal education can understand, apply and share medical information if it is presented simply and appropriately.
- Educational materials are most effective when the people who use them are involved in their development from the beginning stages.
- Health programs should be practical, accessible and respectful of the knowledge, experience and resources already existing in communities.
- To achieve good health, communities must address the underlying causes of poor health, such as: poverty, discrimination, harmful traditional beliefs and unjust social structures.