Hesperian Health Guides

Introductory Material

In this chapter:

A Community Guide to Environmental Health is a collection of ideas, methods, stories, and practical solutions collected from communities worldwide for the benefit of health workers, teachers, community activists, development professionals, and anyone who wants to improve health for themselves and their community.

How to Use the Healthwiki

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Every community and every culture has its own ways of maintaining health and protecting natural resources. We hope this book will add to your community's resources for doing so. If what the book suggests does not bring the desired result, if a story does not apply to your situation, or if instructions for building something do not fit your needs, experiment! Try different solutions, and add to what you find here.

Finding Information

The Table of Contents, just like in a book, lists the chapters in the order in which they appear. There is also a box with a list of the chapter contents called "In this chapter" on the right-hand side of every wiki page. Click on a topic in this list to go to that part of the chapter.

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You can also enter terms in the search field in the top right-hand corner to look up information you are interested in.

Also see a list of all the Activities, the Stories, and the How-to's to help you find what you need.

About the drawings

The drawings in this book show people from all over the world. Some of these people will look more like the people in your community than others. No matter where people live, how they dress, or what their houses look like, people are working to solve environmental health problems.

More information at the end of the book

After the main chapters there are 2 Appendices with information that applies to many topics in the book, such as how to use safety equipment. There are also Other Resources sections that list other organizations, books, and websites that we have found particularly helpful in working on the topics in the book. On the Hesperian books and resources page and also on the pages in other languages, you will find more links to “Other Resources”. Use these links! There is a world-wide network of people working for health and social justice. Also, please let us know if any of these links no longer work, or if you think other resources should also be listed. Contact us at: [email protected].

Understanding the navigation

A page in the wiki may contain the same information as many pages of a printed book. It also contains other information, including ways to visit other wiki pages, other books, and other websites. The links (or navigation) on the left can lead you to:

  • the main Hesperian site
  • a “store” where you can buy the print version of the book you are currently using
  • a version of the chapter that looks just like the printed book (PDF) to print or download
  • a way to print the page just as it looks on your screen
  • this same material in another language
  • a page where you can create new health materials using your own ideas along with Hesperian content

As mentioned above, the links (or navigation) on the right can lead you to the other pages in the chapter you are currently using.

What the different things on a page mean

Most pages include several headings of different sizes. The largest heading, at the beginning of the wiki page, is the general topic that is being discussed on that page. The smaller headings present more specific information.

There are different kinds of information on each page, some is presented as stories (in boxes with a white background and yellow rounded corners, shown below), activities, how-to's (in boxes with a white background and brown rounded corners, like the one you are currently reading about "How to use the HealthWiki"), and general information.

Women miners organize a cooperative

In Bolivia, women collect scraps of gold, silver, and tin from waste piles dumped near the mines. Many women are forced to do this difficult work after their husbands die in mining accidents or from silicosis. The women work long hours, often in contaminated water, and with no protection. They earn very little money. In the past, they were not even recognized as workers by the government. They were like invisible people.

One day, a mining company began blasting a road through the waste dump where a group of women were working. The women climbed to the top of a hill to protest the destruction of their only source of income. They were not able to stop the blasting, but they continued to fight for their rights.
They formed a cooperative to demand more money from the companies who bought their scraps. The companies refused to pay more. But the government recognized their struggle and passed a law that made the companies pay the women when they missed work because of illness. This was a small step, but it was the first time the women’s work was recognized by the government. This small victory inspired the women and other mine workers to continue building cooperatives and unions, and organizing for justice.

Navigating between pages

The top center of every page has links that show in which book and in which chapter the page you are viewing can be found. If you click on the name of the book, you will go to the Table of Contents for the whole book. If you click on the name of the chapter, you will go to the beginning of the chapter.

As mentioned above, the links (or navigation) on the right can lead you to the other pages in the chapter you are currently viewing.

Red text is a link to related information in the book. In the printed book, it may say “See more information on page 109”; in the wiki you can just click on the link and it will take you to that page. To return to the page where you were before clicking a link, just use the “go back” arrow in your internet browser (usually on the top left of your screen). Sometimes a page will include a box titled “More Information” with additional links to related information.

Finally, at the very bottom of every page there are links to the previous page and the next page.

Other information about the Hesperian HealthWiki

Some of Hesperian's books are in the Hesperian HealthWiki. But the NEW Where There Is No Doctor is still being written. So the HealthWiki contains advance versions of only some chapters. In those chapters you will find gray “links” that do not work because the material that they will link to has not yet been completed. Please forgive us. We hope the chapters will be useful to you even before the entire book is completed.

In this chapter:

Each chapter of the NEW Where There Is No Doctor contains medicine information (“Green pages”) for that chapter. Instead of combining the medicine information in a single chapter in the book (where it will be when the book is completed), the medicines information is now found at the end of each chapter. You can find a link to the medicines pages for a chapter in the contents box on the top right of each wiki page in that chapter.

Some books contain a “Problem Index” at the beginning of the Green Pages. In this Index, you can look up a health problem, the places in the book where it is explained, and the medicines which may be useful in treating it. The “Problem Index” provides an easy way to find information quickly, but it is not a substitute for a more careful study of the book.

More Information
Solving Health Problems

Sometimes a page will include a box titled “More Information” with additional links to related information, like this:

Some of our books use specific pictures to convey important or repeated information.
They include:


Get help right away!
IMPORTANT! Very important information

WARNING! This is the warn you about something that could be dangerous

This is a sign of danger!
Be very careful with this medicine during pregnancy
Do not use this medicine during pregnancy
Be very careful with this medicine if you are breastfeeding
Do not use this medicine if you are breastfeeding

This resource can be improved with your help

If you have any ideas about how the Hesperian HealthWiki could better meet your needs, or suggestions for changes to the content of the books, please write to us at [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you!

This page was updated:05 Jan 2024