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Labor rights activist murdered in Bangladesh

Hesperian is deeply saddened and outraged by the murder of Bangladeshi labor activist Aminul Islam.

Aminul was an organizer at the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS) and a local leader for the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF). He fought tirelessly alongside workers, unions, and organizations from Bangladesh and around the world to raise poverty-level wages, improve safety in response to tragic factory fires, and promote fair and healthy work in Bangladesh.

We first connected with Aminul in 2003 while developing our book A Workers’ Guide to Health and Safety. BCWS field-tested and contributed to several sections on the hazards of garment work, sharing not only their own experience and knowledge as organizers but also the comments, feedback, ideas, and suggestions of their Bangladeshi coworkers.

Aminul’s murder comes at a time of great progress and success for the workers’ movement in Bangladesh. He was fatally silenced by those who want to continue profiting from the poverty and ill health of workers in Bangladesh, who want to instill fear among those fighting for their rights.  When our staff connected with Aminul after he had been released from being arrested on trumped-up charges and tortured a few years ago, they were struck by his impossibly-cheery, positive outlook and his incredible courage and strength. We have all lost an important colleague.

Hesperian joins the international community in demanding that Aminul’s death be promptly investigated and those responsible brought to justice. BCWS has asked us to urge the government of Bangladesh to take action by sending a letter to the Prime Minister.  Please take a moment to join this campaign

Planned Parenthood Global hosts NYC book launch for Health Actions for Women

March 06, 2015

It’s a project that has been years in the making; 19 years, if you trace back to the original moment of inspiration, which was sparked during a conversation between Dr. Melissa Smith and a group of midwives in Guatemala in 1996. Melissa was leading a workshop on safe motherhood and family planning, field testing material for Hesperian’s Where Women Have No Doctor. The midwives loved it -- but they wanted more.

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What do Paul Farmer, Rigoberta Menchú, and Cecile Richards have in common?

February 23, 2015

Everyone from Paul Farmer to Judy Norsigian, Cecile Richards to Ela Bhatt agree: if you care about the health and wellbeing of women and girls, you need Health Actions for Women. Have you ordered your copy?

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Hesperian releases highly anticipated new title: Health Actions for Women

February 19, 2015

“No other resource today provides such concrete tools to engage communities and empower women of all ages to build lasting change from the ground up. A triumph!” —Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Women’s health is more than medicine; the social barriers to good health for women and girls are difficult to discuss and resolve. Hesperian’s new title, Health Actions for Women: Practical Strategies to Mobilize for Change provides a wealth of accessible, engagingly illustrated activities, strategies, and stories that address the social obstacles and practices that prevent women and girls from enjoying healthy lives.

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Celebrating Jane Maxwell’s 50 years of health activism!

February 16, 2015

On February 6th, 2015, friends and colleagues from many communities gathered in appreciation of Jane Maxwell, who has had (and will continue to have) an incredible impact on the lives and health of so many people through her work and advocacy over 50 years. Colleagues from MIUSAWORLD, the AIDS Lifecycle ride to end AIDS, the Berkeley Free Clinic, Hesperian Health Guides, and many other communities thanked Jane for her enduring dedication, support, and friendship.

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Hesperian partner in Nepal featured on Global Motherhood blog

December 19, 2014

Even your creased, well-thumbed copy of Where There is No Doctor is no substitute for receiving attention from a compassionate and well-trained health care provider. In a recent piece on the Huffington Post’s Global Motherhood Blog , anthropologist Elisabeth Enslin describes how she used Where There Is No Doctor to advise her neighbors, who were reluctant to go to clinics after “they'd had their concerns dismissed, been sold expensive medicines or exams with dubious benefits, been chastised, misdiagnosed, misunderstood, inconvenienced, lost work time waiting for all-too-brief exams, been looked down on for their skin color, ethnic status, poverty, and/or gender.” Although she found that Where There is No Doctor provided “practical and thoughtful” solutions to many problems, she longed to be able to refer her Nepali advice-seekers to health services that would treat them with the respect and care they deserved.

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Peace Corps and Hesperian sign Memorandum of Understanding

December 03, 2014

Hesperian Health Guides and Peace Corps have made official what for over 40 years has been an unofficial, but very fruitful partnership, by signing a Memorandum of Understanding at Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington DC on November 24th.

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30 Years Later: We All Live In Bhopal

On December 2nd, 1984, near densely-crowded neighborhoods of Bhopal, India, a pesticide factory owned by Union Carbide (now Dow Chemical Company) leaked tons of poison gas into the air. With the factory’s warning system turned off and other safety systems broken, the community was not alerted in any way except by the toxic clouds that reached them in their homes and on the streets.  

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Invitation: Join Peace Corps and Hesperian in DC on November 24th

You are cordially invited to two events in celebration of the MOU signing and new partnership between

The Peace Corps and Hesperian Health Guides

For over 40 years, Peace Corps Volunteers have used Hesperian 
resources like Where There Is No Doctor in their work and with their 
host communities. Now, Hesperian Health Guides and the Peace Corps
are signing an MOU to collaborate in global public health efforts.

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Chiapas Health Workers improve maternal health with mHealth

November 14, 2014

Rural Chiapas might appear to be an unlikely place for mHealth initiatives to gain traction – with one person in four unable to read, and little cell phone reception or internet connectivity in the mountains, it would seem that accessing understandable information through mobile technology would be a challenge for health workers and patients alike. Yet the community health workers of Compañeros en Salud (CES) have found unexpected ways to make innovations in mobile health technologies work for them and strengthen their programs.   

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With these new Swahili health materials, we’re all winners!

The Swahili health materials contest we announced in August, cosponsored by Hesperian, our Tanzanian partner COBIHESA, and K4Health, generated an impressive response. We are excited to announce that 22 new health materials are now freely available for download on our Swahili Language Hub! These excellent new resources cover topics from cervical cancer to training midwives, and from non-communicable to sexually transmitted diseases. People sent creative entries in every imaginable form: videos, fliers, brochures, posters, comic books, and more!

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September 28: Day of action to save the lives of women and girls

In too many countries, women seeking post-abortion are denied care, imprisoned, or die unnecessarily from preventable medical complications. Access to safe post-abortion care is especially important for children, adolescents, and young adults, as 70% of hospitalizations for abortion are of women under the age of 20. Lack of post-abortion care is as deadly as it is widespread; worldwide, nearly half of the 21 million abortions that occur every year are unsafe, with 98% of unsafe abortions taking place in the developing world.  In Latin America, where 95% of abortions are unsafe, lack of proper post-abortion care is responsible for one out of every eight maternal deaths. Such a large death toll does not simply cut short millions of women’s lives, but denies families their mothers, partners, daughters, aunts, and sisters. 

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Finally: a worker-focused Accord for Bangladesh

The collapse of the garment factory in 2013 in Rana Plaza, Bangladesh killed 1,129 people, injured thousands more, and made visible the unsafe and unhealthy working conditions sewn into our clothing. The outpouring of anger and solidarity worldwide forced many of the brands sourcing garments in Bangladesh to pledge to invest in risk prevention and enforce improved labor standards.

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Helping Health Workers prevent the spread of Ebola

August 26, 2014

Health workers in West Africa have been among the hardest hit by the recent Ebola outbreak, risking their own health and safety to care for others during this devastating epidemic. Health workers in affected countries need our support to protect themselves and others; when safe and healthy, they are our best defense against the further spread of Ebola. Consider supporting the work of Friends of the Earth International and Last Mile Health, two organizations that are equipping health workers in Liberia with the equipment and training they need to stay safe and save lives. This most recent outbreak has shown that when we do not provide sufficient support, clinics shut down and people lose confidence in their medical systems.

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Until the Walls Come Down: Health Advocacy in Prison

August 15, 2014

Prisoner’s Justice Day was August 10 in Canada. Thirty years ago, Edward Nalon took his own life in a segregated unit at Millhaven Maximum Security Prison in Ontario. On the one-year anniversary of his death, others living in the prison went on hunger strike and held a memorial service, knowing the consequence for such disobedience would be solitary confinement.  Since then, every year incarcerated people and their allies internationally have continued to memorialize, grieve, and fight for those living on the inside.

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Call for flyers, posters, and booklets in Swahili on community health education

August 05, 2014

Submit your health materials in Swahili by August 30 and be entered to win a complete set of Hesperian Health Guides in English (including Where There Is No Doctor); a preventative health kit; or a blog piece featuring your health education work on Hesperian’s website (1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prices, in the order listed). Submissions will be judged by COBIHESA and Hesperian Health Guides.

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Underserved and Overcharged: Why those who most need the Hepatitis C cure are least likely to get it

July 28, 2014

This Hepatitis Day, the 185 million people worldwide living with chronic Hepatitis C (HCV) and their loved ones ought to be celebrating a major medical accomplishment: the release of sofosbuvir, a new medication which cured 90% of HCV-infected patients in clinical trials. It is too soon to celebrate, however, as this life-saving drug remains financially out of reach for most of those affected. 

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Helping Children Live with HIV: A Community-Based Approach to Living Positively

July 17, 2014

Hesperian offers our deepest condolences to the family and friends of those lost in Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. We are deeply saddened by the loss of many outstanding members of the HIV/AIDS research community and civil society.

There are currently 3.34 million children living with HIV worldwide. Recent studies demonstrate that gaps in access to treatment are widening in countries with high rates of HIV infection, with only 34% of children in surveyed countries being given Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) medicines, as opposed to 68% of adults. The problem becomes even more complex when you consider the 70 million children who become caregivers for their families at an early age, are orphaned, or experience a wide array of detrimental social impacts from growing up in communities disproportionately affected by HIV.

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Space for self-determination: Making medical settings welcoming for trans* patients

June 26, 2014

Historically, trans* communities have been one of the most medically underserved populations in the United States. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), trans* people have greater access to health care than ever before. However, insurance coverage is not enough to ensure quality care, as medical settings have a long legacy of excluding and alienating transgender and gender-variant people.

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Amazon Frown

June 18, 2014

You may have read recently about how, the company that hopes to sell everything to everyone, doesn’t treat its workers fairly. Or if you follow the publishing industry, you have been long aware of how it squeezes small publishers and independent bookstores out of business through predatory pricing, mandatory “co-op fees,” demanding increasingly higher discounts and complex and costly shipping terms. Even the front page and TV news has been focusing on how Amazon is abusing its power to grab the lion’s share of income away from authors and even the largest publishers.

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Pesticides are poison, but research and activism are the antidotes

Today is World Environment Day and Hesperian would like to recognize the work of one of our admirable local partners, the Center for Environmental Research & Children’s Health (CERCH). For the last ten years, CERCH has not only contributed to our knowledge of pesticides and their complex relationships with our lives and environment, but has also worked side-by-side with farm laborers in Salinas, CA to protect farm workers and their families from the hazards of pesticides.

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Supporting Senegalese Midwives and Birth Attendants – a lesson from the African Midwives Collective

May 05, 2014

When Kaya Skye moved to the northern Mboro region of Senegal in 1996 to research topics in medical anthropology, she found herself fascinated by the state of maternal health. She observed that healthcare workers were being pushed to adopt western birthing practices, but the government- sponsored training was not explaining the rationale for certain actions.

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Assembly Required: Take action this May Day

May 01, 2014

Today, May 1st, Hesperian's offices are closed to commemorate International Workers' Day. We're taking a well-deserved day off. We'll also participate in community events and marches around the Bay Area, in Oakland,San Francisco, and Santa Rosa, demanding labor and occupational health and safety rights for all workers, regardless of their legal status, and comprehensive immigration reform.

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Healthy (e)Readers: Students in Ghana use Kindles and Where There Is No Doctor to take control of their health

In May of 2013, Hesperian Health Guides teamed up with WorldReader, an e-reader based literacy-building program, to deliver Where There Is No Doctor on Kindle devices throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Here are a few examples of what students in Ghana are learning from their copy of Where There Is No Doctor

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Safe Pregnancy and Birth App Field Tested by Health Workers in Chiapas

April 03, 2014

Hesperian is excited to have recently partnered with Compañeros en Salud (CES) to field-test our mobile app, "Safe Pregnancy and Birth". CES held two field-test sessions with community health workers, midwives, clinic staff, and community members to evaluate and solicit feedback on the content and usability of the app.

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Hesperian Goes Back to School: taking a lesson from California parents and caregivers to make the HealthWiki more mobile-friendly

Back in April of 2013, Hesperian Health Guides received a grant from The California Communications Access Foundation (CCAF) to provide free, online, multi-lingual early childhood development resources for California families of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. The grant enabled Hesperian to put Helping Children Who Are Deaf into the HealthWiki in four languages (EnglishSpanishChinese, and Vietnamese) and to make the Hesperian HealthWiki, our online database of searchable health information, more user-friendly to visitors using mobile devices like tablets and phones.

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Help 8 Hesperian translations that are ready to go to print!

All Hesperian books are published in English and Spanish, but all of our titles are available in multiple additional languages - over 80 so far!

How do these books get translated?

Hesperian works with amazing grassroots partners around the world, supporting them as they translate our books. Right now, Hesperian is helping 8 translation partners, located in Afghanistan, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mongolia, the Philippines, and Pakistan, to realize their vision of translating and distributing Hesperian books into Dari, Georgian, Tamil, Bahasa, Bunyore, Mongolian, Cebuano, and Urdu. These are only the projects that are close to completion—you can see more on Hesperian’s website.

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A different perspective this V-Day

February 13, 2014

This "V-Day," stand in support of the billion women around the world who are survivors of violence and rape. As you follow the One Billion Rising for Justice Campaign in the news tomorrow, we'd like to share a perspective from our Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities.

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3 Nepali women’s health titles released

Hesperian has just released not one, but three women's health titles in Nepali! These include Where Women Have No DoctorA Book for Midwives, and A Health Handbook for Women With Disabilities.

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Batting for their rights

The Society for Health Environmental and Rural Development Project (SHERDP) is a grassroots organization working in the rural district of Namakkal in Tamil Nadu, India. In 2004 SHERDP applied for a small grant from Hesperian's Creative Education Fund to support a project that showed women how to work together to stand up for their rights to get health services.  

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A new memoir from Dr. King’s physician

January 20, 2014

As we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King today, exactly 40 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act and Dr. King’s Nobel Peace Prize, Hesperian is excited to announce the addition of Quentin Young’s memoir, Everybody In, Nobody Out, to our Health and Empowerment bookshelf

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Safe Pregnancy and Birth App lauded as top mHealth app

January 03, 2014

An unprecedented 6 billion people now have access to mobile phones worldwide. This has enormous potential to create well-informed individuals capable of participating in actions that improve their health, all through the touch of a button. Unsurprisingly, mobile Health (mHealth) projects have seen an explosion in popularity over the last few years, with thousands of mHealth pilot programs launching every year. But are all these mHealth projects truly empowering people?

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Thanks for your support this year- Happy New Year!

December 31, 2013

As we look back at 2013, we can hardly believe how much your support has enabled us to accomplish - and we were there! Hesperian's annual report summarizes all this progress - review it online with all our other freely accessible publications.

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New Health and Empowerment title! Changing Planet, Changing Health

December 13, 2013

“Climate change isn't just inconvenient-- it kills.
–Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and author of The Coming Plague.

In the midst of devastating typhoons, tornados, and “superstorms,” climate change is increasingly at the forefront of our minds and the daily news.  Paul Epstein and Dan Ferber dig deeper into the story to explore how climate change is altering health and disease patterns.

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The Right to Love is a Human Right

December 11, 2013

Our mailbox has been overflowing this week with moving statements supporting International Human Rights Day, December 10....So it is with great sadness and anger that we receive notice from the Indian human rights organization CREA that the Indian Supreme Court has overturned the Delhi High Court judgment of 2009 which decriminalized homosexuality in India.

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1 small gift improves health for 40 families!

December 03, 2013

Each year around the holidays, we reflect on the things that are most important to us. Our families, our friends, and our health – the material items we exchange pale in comparison.

What if one small gift you gave this holiday season could improve the health of 40 families?

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A letter from Sarah Shannon, Executive Director

November 15, 2013

Hesperian's 2012-2013 Annual Report is now available! Read the letter from our Executive Director, Sarah Shannon, below; and browse the entire annual report by clicking this link on this page. This link can be found on our Projects page

Thanks for supporting Hesperian!
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Emergency health materials for the Philippines

November 15, 2013

In the face of the devastating typhoon in the Philippines, we urge everyone to forward and distribute the following health materials to every relief worker, resident, and traveler already in or leaving for the Philippines. We offer our deepest condolences to those who have been affected by this tragedy.

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Chinese-language Environmental Health book now available

November 14, 2013

Hesperian’s translation partners often develop materials that go far beyond simple translation. An example is YHDRA, an NGO in southwest China that not only completed a translation of Hesperian’s  Community Guide to Environmental Health but also undertook an extensive field-testing process that allowed them to adapt the material and effectively address local environmental conditions, incorporating indigenous knowledge and healing methods. 

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Ina May Gaskin inducted into Women’s Hall of Fame

November 07, 2013

On October 12, Ina May Gaskin, author of Birth Matters, was the first midwife ever inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame. A midwife who has attended more than 1,200 births, Ina May founded the Farm Midwifery Centerin rural Tennessee which has proven that home-birth midwives can learn to provide safe care for women without formal obstetric nursing education. Gaskin is a tireless advocate for humane care for women, and we congratulate her on this honor.

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Hesperian at the APHA

October 31, 2013

The American Public Health Association annual meeting is happening November 2-6  at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Hesperian will be there and we hope you will join us at some of the events, receptions, and presentations we have prepared. Visit us often; our booth is your booth!

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New grant: global libraries to access Hesperian’s HealthWiki

October 24, 2013

Berkeley, California – October 24th, 2013 - Hesperian Health Guides has been granted $550,531 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – Global Libraries Program to increase access to free health information in public libraries around the world.

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Sarah Shannon Receives Dory Storms Child Survival Recognition Award

October 17, 2013

Hesperian’s Executive Director Sarah Shannon was given the Dory Storms Child Survival Recognition Award by the CORE Group, a Washington, D.C. based network of 70+ organizations dedicated to improving and expanding community health practices for underserved populations, especially women and children.
Hesperian’s Executive Director Sarah Shannon was given the Dory Storms Child Survival Recognition Award by the CORE Group, a network of 70+ organizations dedicated to improving and expanding community health practices for underserved populations, especially women and children. - See more at:
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Where There Is No Doctor 40th Anniversary Celebration in Washington D.C.

October 11, 2013

Happy Birthday, Where There Is No Doctor!

Join us in Washington, D.C. to celebrate an event hosted by Hesperian Health Guides and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, D.C., this free event is open to all Hesperian friends and supporters, RPCV or not!

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50% off all disability titles!

October 11, 2013

In recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Hesperian is offering a 50% discount on all of our titles related to disability, for the month of October only! Hesperian offers four groundbreaking titles in English and Spanishthat provide important, easy-to-understand, actionable information to help communities better support individuals with disabilities.

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In support of nonviolence

October 03, 2013

This week, in recognition of the International Day of Nonviolence, we stand in solidarity with the more than 45 million refugees and displaced persons who have fled conflict and violence that threaten their homes and their families. From Kenya to Jordan, India to the Gaza Strip, Tanzania to South Sudan, refugees and displaced people have been forced from their homes due to violence motivated by politics, profit, ethnicity, religion, and nationality, only to face a new series of conflicts in transit and in refugee camps.

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Press Release: Bay Area supporters of Hesperian Health Guides celebrate 40 years with Where There Is No Doctor

September 20, 2013

Berkeley, CA – September 20, 2013 – more than 200 friends and supporters of Where There Is No Doctor, Hesperian Health Guides’ flagship title, gathered last night at the David Brower Center in Berkeley to celebrate 40 years saving lives through empowering health information. Since its first publication in 1973, Where There Is No Doctor has undergone 28 updated editions, has been translated into 80 languages, and more than 3 million copies in circulation have touched the lives of well over 100 million people around the world- the World Health Organization has called it “the most widely used health guide in the world.”

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Zafrullah Chowdhury: “Knowledge should not be coded and camouflaged”

September 05, 2013

Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury visited Hesperian last week in Berkeley, California and shared his story of founding a community-based health clinic in 1972 in newly independent Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan), in the aftermath of horrific violence and political turmoil.

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Building good health, one story at a time

August 21, 2013

At Hesperian, we often write about our Gratis Books Program that sends over 1,000 free books each year to community health workers and educators around the world who can’t afford to purchase them. You may also be familiar with the global reach of Hesperian’s resources; over the past 40 years, our books have been translated into 80 languages by community partners and can be found in at least 221 countries and territories around the world.  But beyond the numbers, how do we know the true impact of Hesperian's materials? How do we know that Hesperian resources are contributing to better health?

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It’s time to party and you’re invited!

August 14, 2013

Hesperian Health Guides invites you to celebrate 40 years withWhere There Is No Doctor. Join us on Thursday, September 19th for a free night of fun, food, and drink! Appetizers and drinks will be served, RSVP required to attend.


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New Free Chapter on First Aid!

July 11, 2013

For years, community health workers have depended upon the first aid information in Where There Is No Doctor to respond to accidents and injuries that occur at work, in the home and community, from natural disasters, and now from climate change.

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Use Hesperian Images for your next project

June 28, 2013

Health workers and educators know that pictures are often critical tools for reaching across differences of languages and literacy to improve health knowledge and capacity.

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Hesperian books in action!

June 21, 2013

This piece was sent to Hesperian by Ronna E. Krozy, EdD, RN who uses Hesperian books and resources in her work with nursing students in Nicaragua.

It is my pleasure to describe the Boston College Connell School of Nursing Global Health Initiative (GHI), a yearly clinical practicum that takes place in Nicaragua. Student participants have highly commended the experience as professionally and personally life-changing. This project allows undergraduate Community Health Nursing students to earn course credit and nurse practitioner students to earn supervised clinical hours toward certification. Students also have in-country opportunities to learn about Nicaragua's social, political, economic and health systems.

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Hesperian salutes The Berkeley Free Clinic

June 13, 2013

As we celebrate LGBT pride this month, we take great pleasure in saluting our long-time partner, The Berkeley Free Clinic, for all the Clinic does to provide services for its gay, bisexual and transsexual clients.

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From tragedy toward action: Asian activists struggle for safe and healthy workplaces

June 06, 2013

The tragic building collapse at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh is the largest industrial accident in history. More than 1,000 people were killed, murdered through the negligence of a social, political, and economic system that allows and encourages unsafe working conditions in the name of profit.

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Press Release: Hesperian Health Guide and WorldReader Announce Partnership

May 30, 2013

It’s been a big year for Where There Is No Doctor, the lifesaving title first published in 1973 in Mexico’s Sierra Madre. Not only is the book celebrating 40 years in circulation, with 28 editions, an astonishing 81 translations, and distribution in 221 countries and territories—this month the book launches for the first time as an e-book for Kindle.

To increase free access to empowering health information around the globe, Hesperian has partnered with Worldreader, the San Francisco-based organization co-founded by former executive David Risher. Together, Hesperian and Worldreader will load Where There Is No Doctor onto thousands of Kindles in African schools, providing unprecedented access to the critical medical information contained in the text and illustrations.

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Executive Director Sarah Shannon wins the 2013 Dory Storms Child Survival Recognition Award

May 24, 2013

At the CORE Group Spring Meeting 2013, members voted for Hesperian's Executive Director Sarah Shannon to receive the 2013 Dory Storms Child Survival Recognition Award, presented annually by the CORE Group to "a person(s) recognized for exceptional efforts resulting in more effective child survival program implementation and increased impact in improving the health of the poorest of the poor including mothers, children and infants in underserved communities throughout the world."

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40 Years of Where There Is No Doctor

May 16, 2013

Over the past four decades, has saved countless lives and has informed and empowered agents for change at every level of society. In celebration of four decades of supporting a vision of Health for All, Hesperian Health Guides is happy to be envisioning how it will save lives for years to come.

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Tackling the “Open Access” question

May 09, 2013

This is a letter that Hesperian originally submitted to the HIFA2015 listserv, an online community of global health professionals dedicated to community-centered health practices and increased accessibility of free health materials. We welcome your comments and feedback.

Dear HIFA2015 members,

We are responding to the moderator's question as to why some organizations (specifically Hesperian Health Guides), have not chosen to “go completely Open Access.” We appreciate the opportunity to share about this experience, as the process towards becoming more Open Access has been very important to our organization.

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“Taking Action for Women’s Health” | Published in University of Washington’s alumni magazine

There are moments when the world answers our questions.

For UW School of Medicine alumna Melissa Smith, one of those moments came in 1979, while she was working in a bush village clinic in Liberia. She was deciding between studying public health and going to medical school, trying to figure out what kind of education would allow her to be most effective. Her moment came when a child died in her arms of malnutrition.

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Press Release: Hesperian to provide California families free online resources for children who are deaf or hard of hearing

April 18, 2013

Berkeley-based Hesperian Health Guides has received a grant from The California Communications Access Foundation to provide free online multi-lingual early childhood development resources for California families of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. The CCAF is a nonprofit that specializes in improving access to telecommunications services for people with disabilities and other traditionally underserved populations. The grant will support California families, educators, and service providers by placing Helping Children Who are Deaf in a free, mobile-accessible online format in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Amharic. This resource will support and enhance the long-term objectives of California State programs such as Early Start as well as the nonprofit organizations that support children who are deaf or hard of hearing and their families.

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No More Scissors and Tape: Hesperian Images is Here!

April 04, 2013

This week we announced the full service release of Hesperian Images, an online library of over 11,000 health illustrations and an exciting addition to the Hesperian Digital Commons.

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Hesperian Launches Online Database of 10,000+ Health-Related Images

April 04, 2013

Hesperian Health Guides announces the launch of Hesperian Images, a searchable online database of more than 10,000 hand-drawn illustrations related to health. Comprised of every image from Hesperian’s 20 renowned health publications, Hesperian Images is the largest online database of health-related images available.

Hesperian Images was developed in response to requests from health educators and practitioners around the world who have told us that they rely on images from Hesperian books like Where There Is No Doctor to illustrate everything from first aid to maternal health, hygiene to vaccines, and home remedies to modern medicines. Often using photocopiers, scissors, and tape, health workers have long used Hesperian images as sources for creating health training materials, health curriculum, presentations, flyers, posters, flipcharts, and many other tools.

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Press Release: Hesperian Health Guides Launches Award Winning App in Spanish

March 28, 2013

Hesperian Health Guides announces that its award-winning mobile app, “Safe Pregnancy and Birth”, is now available in Spanish. Available as a free download for iPhone and Android , “El embarazo y el parto seguros” contains lifesaving information presented in clear, accessible language and with informative illustrations. The app is ideal for working with community health workers and midwives with varied literacy levels in the US and abroad.

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Reflections on field testing the Health Action for Women

February 28, 2013

At Hesperian, we talk a lot about our field-testing process, but we realize it must sound a little mysterious to people outside our offices.  A group of staff and advisors just reviewed the final comments generated by field-testing our new title in development: the Health Action Guide for Women and Girls, a book of information and activities designed to open spaces for work on topics such as sexuality, family planning, HIV, and violence against women.  We received such helpful feedback that we wanted to share this as an example of our field-test process.

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Reproductive Health Victory in the Philippines

February 21, 2013

We are happily writing today to congratulate our friends and partners the Likhaan Center for Women’s Health, who rung in the New Year with the passage of a hard fought reproductive health bill in the Philippines.

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Hesperian mobile app reaches 50,000 downloads!

February 14, 2013

Hesperian’s mobile app, Safe Pregnancy and Birth was recently awarded $10,000 by the Ashoka Changemakers/Intel “She Will Innovate” competition thanks to the incredible outpouring of support we received from around the world. We are currently hard at work translating the app into new languages (look for the Spanish app in early spring!) and exploring possibilities for lower-end phones.

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Hesperian in solidarity with ‘Idle No More’

January 25, 2013

Friday January 11 was a Global Day of Action in support of the Canadian First Nation rights movement called Idle No More.  It coincided with the day that Prime Minister Stephen Harper finally met with some leaders of the official Assembly of First Nations -- but not Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence (who has been on hunger strike since December 11) or other chiefs who boycotted what appears to have been a perfunctory meeting.

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Hesperian’s mobile app featured on public radio

November 15, 2012

Hesperian's mobile app, Safe Pregnancy and Birth, was featured on the Bay Area's KQED public radio this morning.

Reported Kat Snow posted the following report on

"An award-winning app developed in the Bay Area aims to help pregnant women stay healthy and reduce the number of maternal deaths worldwide.

Berkeley-based Hesperian Health Guides created the Safe Pregnancy and Birth app for pregnant women, family members, and health care workers.   Hesperian executive director Sarah Shannon says the app uses line drawings to illustrate information, such as how to prevent shock.
"It just helps people as a visual cue to remember, oh, yes, I remember seeing that drawing -- that's what I know I'll do in the case of an emergency," says Shannon.

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Hesperian wins award for “Safe Pregnancy and Birth” mobile app

November 14, 2012

Hesperian Health Guides has been awarded $10,000 by Intel Corporation and Ashoka Changemakers as a winner of the “She Will Innovate” competition. Hesperian’s app for mobile phones, Safe Pregnancy and Birth, was chosen out of 292 submissions from 54 countries as one of three entries which most represents “the world’s most innovative solutions that equip girls and women with new digital technologies -- enabling them to live healthier, smarter, and more meaningful lives.”

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Hesperian at the American Public Health Association!

Hesperian will be all over the 140th Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association this year in San Francisco! Events kick off on Friday, October 26th and continue through Wednesday the 31st. Hesperian staff will be co-sponsoring a pre-conference panel, presenting on a variety of topics, hosting two receptions, and selling our books and demonstrating new digital tools at our booth # 1600 in the Exhibit Hall.

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Hesperian’s Mobile App a Finalist in the “She Will Innovate” Competition

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Thank You! A Challenge Met

Thank you very much to all the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and friends and family who gave to Hesperian to meet our $22,000 matching challenge grant. Your generosity will make a difference in the ability of Hesperian to continue developing and distributing our lifesaving health manuals. 

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Donde no hay doctor in Guatemala

Mateo Nicolás is a teacher by profession, but because there is no village health promoter or midwife in his remote Guatemalan village nor in the village where he works, the villagers would often go to him with their health problems.  He felt grossly undereducated when it came to medical issues.  He got word that there was going to be a village health promoter training in a nearby village, and he asked if he could attend that training.  Casa Colibrí, a grassroots NGO working in the NW region of Guatemala, was presenting the training to a group of 15 health promoters.  The topics included taking vital signs, recognizing and treating common illnesses, essential newborn care and newborn resuscitation, and wound care and suturing.  Each participant was given a copy of Donde no hay doctor, and they were taught how to use the book through numerous activities and exercises.

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Hesperian at the 3rd People’s Health Assembly in South Africa

July 12, 2012

From July 6-11, Hesperian joined hundreds of health activists from over 90 countries at the third People’s Health Assembly in Cape Town.  The People’s Health Movementwas launched in Bangladesh in 2000 with a renewed call for ‘Health for All’ in response to the insufficient international commitment to address the conditions which cause poor health for millions of people around the world.  Three Hesperian representatives participated in the six-day gathering in South Africa to continue building this inspiring global grassroots movement for health and social justice.

At the culturally diverse and inspiring opening plenary, the South African Minister of Health greeted PHM activists, and the spirit of community health workers was celebrated in song and dance.  Speakers addressed the challenges confronting people’s health and our capacity to overcome them. The meeting place of the Assembly, The University of the Western Cape, had been an incubator of struggle in the anti-apartheid movement and once again its halls contained health workers, activists, and administrators from South Africa and around the globe, all working in their own ways to create a more just world. 

Watch a video of the opening ceremony.

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Hesperian Translation Partner Elected to Mongolian Parliament

Hesperian congratulates Oyuna on her recent election to the Mongolian Parliament! As an experienced organizer with a passion for health, the environment, and women’s rights, she will be a powerful leader for change.

Oyungerel Tsedevdamba found Hesperian’s resources in a Google search when someone came to her nonprofit, Local Solutions, to ask about composting toilets. She was so inspired by what she found that she asked to translate Hesperian’s book A Community Guide to Environmental Health into Mongolian. With a grant from Hesperian’s Translations program, she hired a typist, sat down to do the translation—and translated all six hundred pages in forty days.


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Hesperian Friend and Partner Receives Award for Humanitarian Service

June 20, 2012

Congratulations to Dr. Melissa Smith, long-time medical advisor and friend of  Hesperian Health Guides, for receiving the University of Washington Medicine Alumni Association Humanitarian Award for her profound dedication to serving others through  medicine. A graduate of Harvard University and the University of Washington School of Medicine, she has had extensive involvement in global health work, training health workers and midwives for over two decades in poor communities of Central America and Mexico. 

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Double your gift when you honor a Peace Corps Volunteer

June 12, 2012

Peace Corps Volunteers are at the forefront of global health, and often share with us the stories of how they have used our resources to support their communities. Janelle Downing was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco from 2007 to 2009 and she shared this story with us.

“I lived in southeastern Morocco in a village in Ouarzazate province. I worked with a women’s weaving cooperative and we increased the number of carpets sold in cities and internationally. I learned to speak Tashlheet, one of Morocco’s native languages, and came to love the culture of the Souss-Massa Draa people...

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Safe Pregnancy and Birth mobile app released for Android

May 14, 2012

Hesperian is excited to announce a new addition to the Hesperian Digital Commons with the beta release of the Safe Pregnancy and Birth app for Android! The version for iPhone, which was released in January, has already been downloaded in 78 countries – over half of the countries for which the iPhone app is available. Since its release early last month, the Android version has been downloaded over 100 times per day, with a large number of downloads from India, the Philippines and Indonesia.

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Empowering Mayan midwives in rural Belize

I went to Punta Gorda, Belize Central America to train Mayan women to deliver babies in their communities using Hesperian's A Book for Midwives. Punta Gorda is a town in the southernmost part of Belize with a small hospital. Around the town are numerous Mayan villages. There is a bus service that goes two days a week to most of the villages, but for obvious reasons that is not a reliable way to get to medical help when a woman is in labor. Some of the villages might have one person who owned a truck and they soon became tired of being asked to transport people to town. They were especially leery of women in labor who might deliver in route and make a bloody mess in the process!

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National Geographic Features Hesperian Digital Commons

May 03, 2012

In a new post on National Geographic’s blog, Hesperian Executive Director Sarah Shannon writes about her experience using Where There Is No Doctor in Central America in the 1980s, how the world we live in has been transformed by technology since then, and the urgent ongoing need for accessible health information. Sarah writes, “I was only 22 when I arrived in the Salvadoran refugee camp in rural Honduras. Refugees were streaming over the border, running for their lives in the midst of a civil war. They were malnourished, terrified, wounded, and carried nothing but the clothes on their backs. For my part, I had a suitcase full of clothes, and a copy of the book Where There Is No Doctor given to me by a mentor as I was packing….” To read the full article, click here.

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Labor rights activist murdered in Bangladesh

April 13, 2012

Hesperian is deeply saddened and outraged by the murder of Bangladeshi labor activist Aminul Islam.  Aminul was an organizer at the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS) and a local leader for the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF). He fought tirelessly alongside workers, unions, and organizations from Bangladesh and around the world to raise poverty-level wages, improve safety in response to tragic factory fires, and promote fair and healthy work in Bangladesh.

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The Road to Health in the Indian Himalayas

April 04, 2012

The bags came up the mountain trail on the back of a horse as usual.  Inside there was a parcel sent from America by our friend Janet Meek.  Along with a few comforts from home was a copy of Where There Is No Doctor.  Inside the cover was scribbled a small note which said, “Thought this might come in handy, though I hope you never have to use it.”  There was no way she could have known what would become the irony of this statement or that she had cast a spark into the tinderbox of our community.

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Disabled village children in Ecuador get a second chance

April 04, 2012

I first learned about the book Disabled Village Children in an occupational therapy graduate class at Springfield College.  Scanning the pages of what I expected to be another uninspired, required reading I quickly realized that I did not want to put it down.  I marveled over the suggestions for adaptive equipment made from easily found materials in northern, rural Mexico, and therapeutic strategies modified for laymen.  The photos of real village people getting and giving appropriate rehabilitation with ideas from Hesperian’s manual were so exciting to me and the way I thought community health care should be in remote areas.  I knew I wanted to use this book one day in a real life experience of my own.

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Ecological-sanitation latrines transform rural Ethiopia

April 04, 2012

In rural Ethiopia, we have proceeded in stages from open-field defecation to ecological-sanitation latrines (Ecosan).  These above-ground latrines keep groundwater clean, divert urine for use as fertilizer, and compost feces.  It seems like a miracle to have watched villagers go from their first understanding of hygiene to their enthusiastic embrace of these latrines.  Farmers tested diluted urine (3:1 water:urine) on their corn crops and found the yield was higher with diluted urine than with expensive commercial urea fertilizer (results are statistically significant).  Thus farmers have "lined up" and use the diverted urine.

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Are you a Returned or Current Peace Corps Volunteer? Find out how You can make a Difference!

 As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you probably used (or are using!) the book Where There Is No Doctor. Hesperian Health Guides, the nonprofit writer and publisher of this important health resource, wants to connect with you to pursue a vision of Health for All! Together, we can continue to make a difference in your host community.

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Celebrating New Digital Tools

Hesperian is looking forward to celebrating the launch of our Digital Commons an our new app for maternal health with friends and supporters in Palo Alto and in Berkeley. Click the image below to see the invitation!

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Poor Education is Making Us Sick: March 1st

Here’s some healthy math: every dollar spent on early childhood education saves 17 dollars in future health and social costs. 

March 1st is a national day of action for education, and we know that supporting education is crucial to supporting public health.  To learn more about the connections between a good education and good health, check out the flyers below – the first one is good for sharing with friends, and the second one includes a full set of references for the facts listed. 

Poor Education is Making Us Sick (for printing – no citations)

Poor Education is Making Us Sick (with citations)

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Dollar-for-Dollar match for each Gift of Health until March 31st

Now through March 31st, 2012, if you make a Gift of Health through the Gratis Books program, it will be matched dollar for dollar by the generosity of the Wang-McLaren Foundation. This means that each gift you make will go twice as far—and for the price of one book, you can enable us to send two!

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Try our new digital tools for health

December 01, 2011

We encourage you to try out our new digital tools and let us know what you think!

Hesperian Images
Hesperian Images is an online image library containing thousands of Hesperian’s world renowned illustrations now available to all!  

Our Health Materials Workshop
The Health Materials Workshop is a new online tool to help you design flyers, posters and brochures using Hesperian text and images.  

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Check out our new Health & Empowerment titles!

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Updated Women’s Health Materials Customized to Meet Your Needs

November 10, 2011

A 2011 update of Hesperian’s widely used guide to women’s health is now available in both English and Spanish in two new formats... and we are currently testing and improving a beta version of our online Health Materials Workshop, where health educators can design customized flyers, posters and brochures using Hesperian source text and images. 

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The 2011 reprint of Where There is No Doctor is now available!

October 26, 2011

Our bodies and environments are constantly changing – new medicines are created and viruses evolve.  We continually update Hesperian health guides to ensure that those who rely on our materials to promote healthy individuals and communities have access to high quality, up-to-date medical information.

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Welcome to our new website!

October 14, 2011

We’ve been working hard to create a site that communicates all of the work we do here at Hesperian Health Guides, including our rich history and exciting new projects.  Our new site makes it easier to buy, browse, read and download our books and resources in English, Spanish and many other languages.  It also offers new features and tools, including an online image library with over 10,000 Hesperian images!  We hope that you’ll explore the new site and let us know what you think. Don’t forget to check out all the ways in which you can get involved in our work and help us to promote health for all.

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Where There Is No Dentist 2011 Reprint

September 15, 2011

You are what you eat -- this is reflected in all parts of your body including your teeth! The industrial food system is changing the way that we eat. In rich and poor nations alike, people are eating more processed, sugary foods that harm our health. Taking back our food system and making access to fresh, nourishing and affordable food a human right are long-term preventive strategies; in the meantime, how can we take care of our oral health?

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Midwives are Essential to Community Health, a new report confirms

September 01, 2011

The first report to comprehensively explore current midwifery practices across the globe, the State of the World’s Midwifery 2011: Delivering Health, Saving Lives, was released last month by the International Confederation of Midwives in Durban, South Africa.

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New “World Report on Disability” Parallels Hesperian’s Approach

August 16, 2011

A new report from the World Health Organization and the World Bank, the “World Report on Disability,” calls for the elimination of barriers that often force people with disabilities to “the margins of society.” About 15 percent of the world's population - some 785 million people - has a significant physical or mental disability, including about 5 percent of children. Full text of the report is available here. Read More

Do you know where your water comes from?

No matter where you are, in a rural or urban area, you are in a watershed. Often, we know which city, county and state we live in, but not which watershed! A watershed is an area of land where all the water from rain and snow drains downward to a single body of water, such as a stream, river, lake, or wetland. A healthy watershed has the right combination of plants, water and soil to protect groundwater and can provide us with water for drinking, washing, agriculture, industry, and recreation. If a watershed is damaged—for example by deforestation, dumping of industrial and agricultural waste, or building large dams—everyone’s health is affected.

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Happy Bike to Work Day!

Another morning, another commute to work – but this time, there were treats along the way! Today is Bike to Work Day, started by the League of American Bicyclists in 1956 and hosted in Berkeley by the East Bay Bicycle Coalition.

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What’s changed? New software plug-in aids publishing work and Hesperian’s updates

Usually when a publisher reprints a book, they just send an order to the printing plant that they need another several thousand books, and the printer simply reuses the same files (or plates) to produce the additional copies. But not Hesperian.

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Environmental Health book available in Spanish!

May 02, 2011

Guía comunitaria para la salud ambiental, the Spanish-language edition of A Community Guide to Environmental Health, is hot off the presses! Read More