Recommitting to primary health care

27 October, 2018

Hello Neil,

I want to thank you and the HIFA collective for your kind words of appreciation to Hesperian Health Guides and to me for our past and ongoing contributions to "health information for all". [*see note below]

I was especially taken by your quote from your 2004 article in Lancet:

'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. More attention is needed to ensure free access to such resources for the vast majority of developing-world health professionals who work in primary and district care.'

Key to this statement is your emphasis on ensuring FREE ACCESS to such informational resources. Fortunately, thanks to Internet, all Hesperian publications - which include most of my health handbooks - can now be accessed and downloaded free from Alternatively, all my health and disability handbooks can be freely downloaded through And for those readers actively concerned with the social determinants of health, our book, "Questioning the Solution: the politics of primary health care and Child Survival", by David Werner and David Sanders, can now be downloaded free (or purchased in print at reduced cost) through

I, in turn, want to express my heartfelt appreciation to Neil and all those involved with HIFA for the outstanding, persevering job you have undertaken to freely share urgently needed health-related information with health professionals and community health workers worldwide.


David Werner


David B Werner

HIFA profile: David Werner is author of the classic book Donde No Hay Doctor (Where There is No Doctor), which has been published in more than 75 languages. He is co-founder and co-director of HealthWrights, a non-profit organization committed to advancing the health, basic rights, social equality, and self-determination of disadvantaged persons and groups. A biologist and educator by training, he has worked for many years in more than 50 countries, in village health care, community-based rehabilitation, and Child-to-Child health initiatives. Website: david.b.werner AT

[*Note from HIFA moderator (Neil PW): Thank you David, indeed your contribution to 'health information for all' cannot be overstated. All, by way of background: Massimo Serventi wrote an email to me on Wednesday, saying "I grew up as 'african' pediatrician with books from Hesperian Foundation. Hifa and chifa should give credit to them." I responded: "Yes indeed. I agree. Where There is No Doctor was invaluable to me when I was briefly a volunteer (and very inexperienced) doctor in rural Peru and I have been a great fan of Hesperian and David Werner ever since. Hesperian is a HIFA supporting organisation and we work with them on the HIFA Evaluating the Impact of Healthcare Information project. I am copying this also to Sarah Shannon (CEO Hesperian) and David Werner to show our collective admiration for what they have achieved and continue to achieve. If we could only apply the knowledge that is in those few simple books, most preventable deaths would be avoided." That last sentence is especially important: *If we could only apply the knowledge that is in those few simple books, most preventable deaths would be avoided.* I look forward to the day when every person has such information in the palm of their hands. Technically, this is feasible. All it needs is modest funding and the support of WHO, ITU and ministries of heatlh. HIFA is working on it: ]