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40 Years of Where There Is No Doctor

May 16, 2013

Lorrie Harris-Sagaribay, a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras with Where There Is No Doctor in the mid-1990s

Over the past four decades, Where There Is No Doctor has made its way from its birthplace in rural Mexico to nearly every country and territory in the world. The information in Where There Is No Doctor 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 reaching out to our friends, partners, and supporters to share stories of how Where There Is No Doctor has made a difference, and to work together to envision how it will save lives for years to come.

The book often travels in the hands of Peace Corps Volunteers like Ouida Chichester, who used the books to teach and practice community health in her host country. Ouida writes, “These books were a huge asset to me during my time in Ecuador as a Peace Corps volunteer, both in addressing my own various illnesses and learning about the health issues facing the community I was living in.”

Another volunteer found the book essential when she was unexpectedly called to help with the birth of a baby: “As a volunteer on a rural tropical island in Vanuatu from 2009-2011, I relied on Where There Is No Doctor throughout my Peace Corps service. One afternoon, a teacher from the school I was teaching at came to bang on my door, frantic because a woman was delivering her baby at the local clinic but the only nurse on the island was a five-hour walk away. I tried to explain that I had no professional medical experience, but she insisted. Fortunately, I brought Where There Is No Doctor with me, and held the woman’s hand all through her prolonged labor. By the time the nurse finally arrived, the baby was already in the proud mama’s arms, and all the locals were telling the story of how I used a book to deliver a baby!”

In other communities, the books arrive through Hesperian’s Gratis Books Program, which provides resources to community health workers in need. The Family Welfare Group in Cameroon received copies of Hesperian resources and wrote, “The books have been termed by us as ‘The Books of Life,’ because generation upon generation shall live to gain from them.  The books will also help in our library and especially our resource persons to work on the books and help the local community.”

Visit our Get Involved page to find out how you can join in the development, distribution, and the future of Where There Is No Doctor, or send your story about using Where There Is No Doctor to us at [email protected].

Are you a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer? After completing their time in Peace Corps, many volunteers feel moved to continue their work towards health for all and improve access to Where There Is No Doctor. To celebrate the book’s 40th birthday, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) have formed a group called Friends of Where There Is No Doctor. This Facebook group is a space to start a campaign, share ideas for improving health in your host country, reconnect with friends, and collaborate for change.