Thursday, June 19, 2014

Where There Is No Doctor

Where There Is No Doctor is book published and sold by the wonderful people at Hesperian Health. I used the book myself while in Nicaragua. For a physician, the content can be a bit simplistic at times but I do acknowledge that the intended audience is for non-physician health care workers. Only 10 percent of pathologies and medical states constitute 90% of what any given provider will encounter. Workers can easily be trained to diagnose and treat those conditions. The remainder would need to be referred to specialists  (ideally over the internet) who will work with the providers to ensure adequate care and follow-up.

During my tenure in Nicaragua, I applied for a grant that addressed the need to bring quality health care to underserved areas of that country. My proposal was based on Mao Zedong's attempt to do the same thing in China. He called the program "Barefoot Doctors" and, in a real small nutshell, medical doctors would train motivated individuals picked by their respective villages in the essentials of medicine (like the 10% mentioned above) then send them back to the villages as primary care providers. My proposal did not receive the grant (I submitted it too late) but it served as the basis for my third book Barefoot Doctors (A Quiet Revolution).

The biggest and  best advantage my Barefoot Doctors idea has over Chairman Mao's is the internet. Surprisingly, internet access is available in the least expected places. Where it is not, there are many like-minded groups such as PATH trying to transform the face of medical access throughout the world. MY vision includes getting access to volunteer specialists 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We CAN do this. It will just take time, money, innovation, and motivated people.

Hesperian Health is a wonderful endeavor created and run by people who have a real heart for serving. If you get the chance, head over to their website, browse around awhile, purchases the resources you are interested in, and donate to them if you feel the need. Their mission is similar to mine.


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