Fondation Pierre Fabre

To widely expand access to online culturally sensitive health information

Main beneficiary countries:
Bangladesh - Ethiopia - Cameroon - Laos - Burkina Faso - Nepal - Senegal - India - Mali - Cambodia

About the sponsor

Hesperian Health Guides

Since its establishment in the 1970s, Hesperian Health Guides has provided easy-to-read health books to promote Health for All. Over the years, Hesperian Health Guides has partnered with community health workers, villagers, medical professionals, and others to develop, publish and share information. Hesperian Health Guides published 20 titles, spanning community health, women’s health, children with disabilities, HIV, and environmental health, and distribute many others. The global spread of the materials is a result of these partnerships and the common commitment to improve health conditions for those most in need. Community health workers, midwives, trainers, educators and even individuals living in remote, underserved areas have depended on Hesperian Health Guides resources since its landmark publication Where There is No Doctor. After over 40 years of experience working with outstanding grassroots organizations, projects, and programs, the materials play a critical role in capacity building to foster change for better health and social justice. To facilitate widespread access to the materials, in the 1970s, Hesperian pioneered a non-proprietary copyright allowing others to adapt the publications for nonprofit uses without fees. Four decades on, Hesperian has a special expertise in supporting the adaptation, translation, localization, and broad dissemination of the health content. Translation partners have helped make Hesperian guides available in over 80 languages; each translation further extends the reach of critical health information to more communities. Additionally, Hesperian has long maintained a donor supported free book program (the Gratis Books Program) that ships copies of printed books to community based organizations and community leaders in developing countries. Today, Hesperian also promotes free access with online resources that include: PDFs of books, and the Hesperian HealthWiki – a lightweight, mobile-friendly platform designed to be accessible even in places with low bandwidth or poor connectivity. Over 6 million people accessed the HealthWiki information in the past 12 months, from 222 countries and territories. Information on HealthWiki about family planning; Eye Health; NCDs (specifically Diabetes and Heart Disease); Air Borne Illnesses; Water Sanitation and Hygiene; Nutrition and Early Childhood Development are the most used worldwide, with over 5.5 million people accessing just this information in the past 12 months. Hesperian has also been able to contribute to the growing demand for informative resources, available on mobile apps and tablets. Hesperian’s first mobile app, Safe Pregnancy and Birth contains a wealth of information on how to stay healthy before, during and after pregnancy, how to recognize danger signs and when to seek medical attention, among others. Launched in 2012, the App won the ‘She Will Innovate’ award, sponsored by Intel Corporation and Ashoka, in November 2012. The app was the winner out of a total of 292 apps reviewed from 54 countries and lauded as the top mHealth app by mHIFA and as an informative and empowering tool. Available for free, the Safe Pregnancy and Birth app is now used in over 200 countries and territories. As of last year, it has been downloaded over 24,000 times in 155 countries. Presently, Hesperian is currently developing other mobile applications related to reproductive health topics.

Sector: Organizational: Communities, public authorities, NGOs, associations, foundations, etc.

Country of origin: United States

The organisation has:

Full-Time Equivalents
Service providers

Initiative overview

Healthcare themes targeted

  • Mother and child health
  • Primary healthcare
  • Nutrition
  • Malaria/paludism
  • Infectious diseases
  • Sexual and reproductive health
  • Vaccination
  • Chronic diseases
  • Cardiovascular illnesses
  • Cancer
  • Ophthalmology
  • Emergency services

Stage of development:

  • Pilot project/testing/trials

Area where initiative is utilised

  • International (in several countries)

Initiative start date

  • 01/01/2018

Initiative end date

  • 06/01/2019


Financing method

  • Public (grant/subsidies, call for proposals/call for tender, etc.)
  • Private (private investors, crowdfunding, philanthropy, etc.)

Economic model(s)

  • Donations

About the initiative

This initiative provides underserved individuals and communities with free access to much needed health information in a user-friendly, culturally-sensitive, heavily-illustrated language specific format, tailored for use by individuals and community health workers and other community leaders. Available in their own languages, and freely available in mobile friendly online format, this easy to use and practical information contributes to empower readers to take charge of their own health care.

Hesperian's health tools are award winning world renown informative health tools that are well reputed due to their accessibility, cultural and custom sensitivity, ease of use, ability to be used by community based health workers and individuals, and tailored language and illustrations based on user. This project will enable free access via internet, to health modules that can be downloaded in print format or on one's mobile or tablet.

Hesperian Health Guides’ mission is to equip even the most remote and underserved individuals and their communities with information and tools that enable and motivate them to take greater control over their health, and work together to eliminate the underlying causes of poor health. Hesperian’s landmark book, Where There is No Doctor, was first published over 40 years ago and, according to the World Health Organization, remains “arguably the most widely use public-health manual in the world.” Translated into over 80 languages and over 3 million copies in circulation in 222 countries and territories.

Hesperian Health Guides has recently launched the NEW Where There is No Doctor (NEW WTND) initiative to address new and emerging health challenges and respond to how changes regarding gender, globalization, and democracy relate to global health challenges in the 40+ years since Where There Is No Doctor was first published. Stand-alone NEW WTND modules are released online on a light-weight mobile-friendly online platform as soon as they have been completed. The HealthWiki online platform was developed through initial funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Access to health information on the HealthWiki continues to grow – in the past 12 months over 6 million individuals from 222 countries and territories accessed information on the HealthWiki, the vast majority using mobile devices. To date 12 modules of the NEW WTND are available in English on the online HealthWiki platform. Releasing the modules online allows people who need the information to access it immediately, as well as promoting its rapid translation into other languages. Once available, these resources generate huge internet traffic and a strong demand from individuals and our in-country partners to make the material available in more languages. Hesperian has begun to work with partners to translate and then publish the NEW WTND modules online. Hesperian monitor online use to learn more about what topics most interest people, what languages are most accessed, etc. It helps to determine which topics to work on next, and which to expand. As soon as even a single module is made available in a language other than English, online traffic soars to that area from the countries where it is spoken. In-country partners across Africa and Asia do use and distribute the print version of the book, and regularly report the need for it to be accessible online in the languages spoken in their countries. Hesperian doesn't only have a strong understanding of health information needed immediately from in-country partners, but also from online traffic.

Hesperian  is committed to making NEW WTND modules for mobile friendly online access available in French, Bambara, Lao, Khmer, Nepali, Portuguese, and Swahili to increase free and wide access to this empowering information in: Mali and elsewhere in Francophone Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique and elsewhere in Lusophone Africa, Cambodia, Laos, and Nepal. Depending upon funding, Hesperian plans to make available these modules, in highest demand and related to: Non Communicable Diseases including Cancer, Diabetes, Eye Disease and Heart Disease; Women’s Reproductive Health including Women’s Menstrual Cycles , Family Planning, and Pregnancy and Birth; Early Childhood Development including Newborn Babies and Breastfeeding and Caring for Children; other topics related to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; Belly Pain, Diarrhea and Worms; First Aid. Hesperian is keen to work with in-country partners and strengthen their capacity for producing mobile friendly, on-line content that can be used by community based health workers and individuals.

Fields of application:

Information, education and communication for behaviour change (IEC)

Target audience

  • Healthcare professionals and structures (hospitals, healthcare centres/clinics, health networks)
  • Entire population
  • Sick people
  • Dependents/persons with disabilities
  • Pregnant women
  • Patient family/entourage

Initiative objectives

  • Decreased mortality
  • Decreased morbidity
  • Reduced suffering
  • Improved treatment

Key figures

19000000 Number of beneficiaries since launch

6 Number of users per Year

Materials used

  • Cellular (mobile) phone
  • Smartphone
  • Tablet
  • Computer

Technologies used

  • Mobile telecommunications (without data connection)
  • Internet
  • Mobile app (Android, iOS, Windows Phone, HTML5, etc.)

Offline use


Open Source


Open Data


Independent evaluation




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