Where There Is No Doctor

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Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Handbook
AuthorDavid Werner
Carol Thuman
Jane Maxwell
CountryUnited States
SubjectHealth care
PublisherHesperian Health Guides
Publication date
Second revised edition: 1992. Fifteenth revised printing: November 2017
610 20
LC ClassRC81 .W4813 1992

Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Handbook is a healthcare manual published by Hesperian Health Guides. Based on David Werner's experiences at his Project Piaxtla in western Mexico, it was originally written in 1970 in Spanish as Donde No Hay Doctor.[citation needed] It has since been revised multiple times, sold over one million copies, and been translated into over 100 languages. The book is available for purchase, in either book form or on CD, at Hesperian's bookstore. All chapters can also be downloaded individually for free in PDF format.

Its distribution is worldwide. The US Peace Corps has distributed it in The Gambia.[1] In Uzbekistan, a United States Agency for International Development grant enabled a team under Dr. Donald Elsworth and Robert Graves of Central Asian Free Exchange to translate the book into Uzbek.[2]

In 2012, Hesperian Health Guides launched their Digital Commons, and health manuals, including Where There Is No Doctor, which could at one time be downloaded in 26 different languages, including Arabic, Filipino, Khmer, Lao, Portuguese, Spanish, and Urdu.[3] The Commons also made available images from the book, and the Health Materials Workshop enables people to make flyers and posters based upon it.[4]


The book covers diarrhoea, malaria, bone fractures, ringworm, and others. Special emphasis is placed on hygiene, a healthy diet and vaccinations. The new edition includes information about some additional health problems, such as AIDS, dengue fever, complications from abortion, and drug addiction, and covers both childbirth and family planning.[5]


In the British Medical Journal, a 1998 review said:

Chances are that if you visited a remote district hospital in a developing country you would find a well thumbed copy of Where There is No Doctor in its library. The book is intended primarily for village health workers, but generations of doctors and medical missionaries who have worked in under-resourced communities globally will vouch for its value in providing concise reliable information.[6]

The book was referenced in a 2004 article in The Lancet, entitled "Can we achieve health information for all by 2015?" The authors wrote that:

A community health worker may find a single copy of Where There is No Doctor, adapted and written in the local language, more useful than access to thousands of international journals.[7]

In the Journal of the American Medical Association, a 2010 review said,

it is still not known if the book effectively improves health. [However,] In most of the world, where physicians are not available and diseases are rampant, the status quo is unacceptable. Until better solutions are created, Where There is No Doctor is probably a useful stop-gap measure.[8]


  1. ^ Jamie Rhein. "Peace Corps testimonial". Retrieved 2008-11-05.
  2. ^ David Nalle (2000-02-25). "Ferghana Report (Central Asia Monitor, 2000 No. The Nepali version of this book was translated by Dr Yogendra Pradhanang, which is very popular in Nepal. 1)". Retrieved 2008-11-05.
  3. ^ "Welcome to the Hesperian Digital Commons". Retrieved 2012-05-11.
  4. ^ "Where There Is No Doctor: Delivering Healthcare in Hard-to-Reach Places". Archived from the original on April 15, 2012.
  5. ^ "Where There Is No Doctor review". Retrieved 2012-04-19.
  6. ^ Saloojee, Haroon (1998). "Book: Where There is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Handbook for Africa". BMJ. 317 (7171): 1532. doi:10.1136/bmj.317.7171.1532. PMC 1114362. PMID 9831604.
  7. ^ Godlee, F.; Pakenham-Walsh, N.; Ncayiyana, D.; Cohen, B.; Packer, A. (2004). "Can we achieve health information for all by 2015?" (PDF). The Lancet. 364 (9430): 295–300. CiteSeerX doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(04)16681-6. PMID 15262109.
  8. ^ Babu, E.; Eisenberg, D. T. A. (2010). "Where There is No Doctor". JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. 303 (9): 885. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.244.

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