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Hesperian Foundation

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Civil Rights, Health, Health Care, International, International Development, Public Health

Mission: Nearly one billion people worldwide have no access to modern health services of any kind. Developed in collaboration with health workers internationally, Hesperian’s simply-written and heavily-illustrated manuals enable people in remote and impoverished communities to recognize, treat and prevent most common health problems and work together for change.

Our book Where There Is No Doctor has been translated into more than 70 languages and is arguably the most widely used public health manual in the world. We have also published manuals on women’s health, midwifery, dentistry, care for people with disabilities, factory workers' health, and health worker training. 

We believe the following:

  • 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.

Target demographics: People with limited or no access to healthcare

Geographic areas served: Communities and individuals all over the world.

Programs: Hesperian HealthWiki; Gratis Books Program; health education and community health worker training; women's health and rights; factory workers' health and safety; healthcare for people with disabilities; first aid and emergency response training

Community Stories

11 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Hesperian is a great organization producing invaluable health guides for people around the world. When I lived in Guatemala and southern Mexico, I regularly consulted their flagship guide Where There Is No Doctor. It helped me understand my various conditions and how to get healthy and stay healthy. The guides are culturally appropriate, gender focused, and every effort is made to make them widely available and accessible. This is an organization that is very thoughtful about its mission!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have used these books in my community work for years and they are simply amazing!! I have multiple copies of every book and pass them to other community workers frequently. They are excellent for teaching as well as for personal reference. The language is clear and simple and the drawings are very helpful. These books are truly a life saver.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Working in Latin America, rural areas and refugee camps, Donde no hay doctor was indespensible. Not only did it provide essential health care information, but it took this guera/gringa out of the position of provider of all information to people who did not have access to education. They are so intelligent, and we read TOGETHER, learned TOGETHER, honored their knowledge and experience and promoted the fundamental health resources of their community.
Since that time, I have been able to gift many other of the books (Donde no hay partera, Where women have no doctor, Donde no hay dentista...) that elevate the training and care of communities and empower them to care for themselves.

Dennis Ekwere

Board Member

Rating: 5

We have collected books from Hesperian that have transformed our works and we proudly recognize the role they play greatly in health sector for everyday people. They are just amazing. From CYPLP, Nigeria.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I first encountered Hesperian when I joined the staff of the Public Welfare Foundation in 1982. The Foundation provided support for the first edition of "Where There Is No Doctor." Over the 25 years I was at Public Welfare I saw threadbare copies of the book in remote areas of El Salvador, Haiti, Mexico and South Africa - testament to the book's wide use by communities without access to health care.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a retired nurse turned volunteer translator, working with a small team updating and translating the book, Where There is no Doctor, and advance chapters of the New WTND into Haitian Creole. This is the most practical and useful medical information book I have ever read, easy to understand, very helpful for health workers and for those who have little access to medical care. The staff at Hesperian are very supportive; the editors are available to answer questions. They solicit contributions from health workers around the world, making it a remarkably well rounded and useful book.

Their open copywright policy makes it possible for us to use their materials without royalties. All their publications can be freely downloaded and printed. Since internet access is nonexistent in Haiti for those who most need the book, in return for permission to do our own printing and distribution of the advance chapters already translated, all they requested was for us to provide them with a copy of our work, to insert an introductory page of acknowledgements, and to insert their logo as a footnote on each page. We were most happy to do so.

Laura I.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Hesperian's materials have been incredibly useful in my work with rural community health workers in Laos and Kenya. Their simple illustrations and straightforward information is easy for everyone to understand. Their book Disabled Village Children in particular served as a guidebook to our project team as we developed trainings on disability identification, treatment, and prevention in rural Laos. The copy in our office was well-loved and used almost daily. Where There is No Doctor and Where Women Have No Doctor have helped me understand personal health issues and those of my colleagues when living in rural areas where access to quality medical care was far away. By making their books freely available in a number of different languages, Hesperian is ensuring all people are able to access the basic human right of having information about their own health.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I run across "Where there is no Doctor" and thought it was exactly what we needed. At the time I was responsible for a community development project in Benin, and each visit to a village (by me or the project staff) included a request for medical help --just because we looked educated and rich, and they had nowhere to turn. So, I bought the book for the project staff. And then I did the same for a similar project in Togo. It made a big difference and made me a strong believer in Hesperian's work.

Fast forward 15 years, I now work on DRC and the chapters on gender-based violence of "Where Women Have no Doctor" have proven once again a most valuable tool, which I have widely distributed. What I like most about Hesperian's books is that they are really practical, but at the same time very professional. And they are readily shared.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a volunteer Translator for Hesperian. I consider it an honor and take tremendous pride in being able to contribute to their mission by making some of their material accessible to French-speaking readers. I have yet to encounter better conceived, written, and illustrated health guides, that are both accurate and clear for people at large, as well as for health practitioners in resource-deprived environments. Hesperian's commitment to a more equitable world and their courageous, sensitive and innovative support and advice for healthier and stronger communities where women and handicapped persons can play their rightful role, are an indispensable engine in the world's effort towards inclusive development.

1 Vy L.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I worked at Hesperian Foundation as an intern for about a year. My time at Hesperian has drastically changed my views on health, and I believe my views have changed for the better. I have nothing but the greatest love and respect for the staff and mission of Hesperian. Hesperian engages with the politics of health in the most progressive, culturally sensitive, and accountable way. Hesperian creates and provides tools for others to empower themselves, and the books truly reflects this democratic and egalitarian perspective. On a personal level, the staff I worked with made me feel welcomed, supported, and I grew tremendously. Overall, I cannot rate Hesperian high enough.

2 Linda E.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Hesperian is amazing. I have ordered their books for about ten years, and I am continually impressed by their focus on updating and revising their materials. I serve on the board of a non-profit organization called Casa Colibrí, and we train village health promoters and traditional birth attendants in northwest Guatemala. Many of our trainees have little or no formal education. In the absence of professional medical caregivers, these community health workers have to provide primary care for their fellow villagers. We use the books as a basis for our trainings and give each trainee a copy to keep. The participants are grateful beyond words that they can take home a reference manual to help them in the future.