We’re continuing to work diligently on our translation of Where There is No Doctor into Bambara. Thanks to our generous donors, we’ve been able to keep our translation team in Bamako busy, and they’ve recently finished the 9th chapter! Once the documents are properly formatted, we’ll post the PDF files on this website. We hope to conduct the first field tests with health workers in Mali later this summer, ni Ala sɔnna!
In the meantime, here’s a good reminder of why accurate, up-to-date health information is so vitally needed in Africa.
Africa has only 2.3 health workers per 1,000 people.
Sub-Saharan Africa has 24% of the global burden of disease but only 3% of the world’s health workforce.
The World Health Organization estimates there is a critical shortage of 2.4 million doctors, nurses and midwives in 57 countries around the world.
The physician-to-population ratio is 18 per 100,000 people continent-wide in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Six preventable causes account for 73% of deaths in children under 5: pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, neonatal pneumonia or sepsis, preterm delivery, and asphyxia at birth.
Earlier this year, we received word that one member of our 4-person translation team would be leaving to pursue other opportunities. Thanks, Abdoulaye Coulibaly, for all your hard work. We wish you nothing but success in your future endeavors!
Please join us in welcoming the newest member of the team, Yagare Magassa. We asked her to write a short introduction, which appears below.
My name is Yagare Magassa; go by Mamay (or Mamaï). I studied English in the Faculté des Lettres, Langues, Arts et Sciences Humaines (or FLASH) at the University of Bamako from 2002–2006. After university, I worked with Americans and Germans as a language facilitator and with Malians as a teacher, merchant, and actress. I like to travel, to study, to walk (for sport) and to speak foreign languages. I speak English, French, Soninke, and Bambara.
With the existing situation in Mali, things like the job market and other activities are completely stopped. So this translation project is a fantastic opportunity for me to not only keep my knowledge and acquire new specialized vocabulary, but most importantly to help other people in difficulty. Because this book will help teach members of the Bambara-speaking population to help themselves for may years to come, I’m so proud to be involved with this program.
Many many thanks to all of our supporters and volunteers for your generosity during our six-week Have a Heart for Mali fundraising campaign. When everything is tallied up (including checks), we think we will have raised about $4,500, bringing our total to over $13,000. While this is short of the ambitious goal we set on Valentine’s Day, we have been truly humbled and grateful for the outpouring of support. And of course, even though our six-week fundraising push is officially over, we still encourage people to give.
Even as the Have a Heart for Mali campaign was underway, our translators have been working away. Please check out our new translations, including our draft introduction, and our experiment with a side-by-side French-Bambara version.
Thanks again to our incredible and growing community for Having a Heart!
There are just two days left in our Have a Heart for Mali campaign! To everyone who has donated during the last six weeks, we say thank you, merci, i ni ce! Thanks to your support, we will be able to keep our team of professional translators and editors in Bamako busy through the end of 2013 and finish translating nearly half of the book.
Please consider making a donation today. We are a volunteer-run organization, so every dollar will pay to translate, proofread, edit, or field-test the Bambara-language edition of Where There is No Doctor.
Thanks to the excellent blog Boing Boing for helping spread the word about our project yesterday!
Welcome Boing Boingers! Here’s a short video about the project, why we think this book is so important, and how it can help save lives. Won’t you consider dropping a few dollars in the hat if you agree?
We’ve discussed the idea of creating a bilingual edition of Where There is No Doctor for use in Mali, that would have both French and Bambara, on facing pages. The reason? Most doctors, nurses, and health workers are educated exclusively in French. However, most rural people do not speak French well, if at all. This can cause trouble*–when it comes to subjects like medicines and dosages, communicating clearly can mean the difference between life and death. In response, the Ministry of Health and others have published lexicons, or lists of French and Bambara words, for use by health workers.
A bilingual Where There is No Doctor is meant to be much more. It is a comprehensive guide for community health workers, covering a wide range of topics in its 450 pages. Here is what it might look like. Please share your thoughts. Would this be helpful? How might different groups use it? (View on Issuu, or download a PDF.)
* A 2004 study in Bougouni, Mali by epidemiologists from Johns Hopkins and the University of Bamako found that “drug consultations done in both French and the local language, Bambara, had higher scores than those conducted exclusively in Bambara.”
For the last few months, our team has been busy working on the Introduction to the Bambara-language edition of Where There is No Doctor. Today, we’re publishing the draft of this chapter online. Check out a PDF copy on our Downloads page, or try this handy viewer courtesy of Issuu.
We received a stirring testimonial from our friend and colleague Greg Flatt in Massachusetts, who recently contacted us to congratulate us on our efforts and offer encouragement. Greg and his wife Cindy founded ECOVA Mali five years ago to help Malian villagers and promote food security and rural development.
As a former Peace Corps Volunteer who served in rural Mali in the late 1990s, I have distinct memories of being helped out personally, or being able to help out others by poring through the pages of “Where There Is No
An ECOVA-Mali community garden in Mali
Doctor.” It helped me to understand various symptoms and ailments and their probable causes. Importantly, it also tells you how serious or urgent a condition might be, and what kind of treatment(s) might be useful or necessary.
I have maintained close ties with Mali and have been back many times in numerous capacities. I am always struck by the profound power that literacy holds—a power that is inaccessible to most Malians. Fortunately, Mali has made significant headway in implementing an educational policy that prioritizes local language literacy as a component of primary education. Since most Malians don’t go to school beyond primary school (and, sadly, many don’t get a chance to go at all), any useful educational material that can be made available in local languages can have a profound impact, especially when dealing with issues of health and nutrition, and illness prevention and treatment.
An additional benefit of the “Where There Is No Doctor” is the abundant use of illustration. Truly, a picture is worth a thousand words. I fully support the publication of this valuable book in Bamanankan (Bambara), and praise the Dokotoro Project’s efforts to bring it into reality. It has the very real potential to positively impact vast numbers of Malians. The majority of Malians who live on the margins of medical access will benefit from the publication of this book in their local language. So to will those who live in larger towns and cities, many of whom do not know enough about various health conditions to adequately triage life-threatening situations and take advantage of what medical resources are available to them.
I recently had a chat with my friend and colleague Dr. John Akudago, who praised the work that we’re doing. John is from the small town of Zebilla, in northern Ghana. Today he lives in New Mexico with his wife and three kids and works as a senior researcher at the Pacific Institute. He shared with me a story about how people in his community frequently referred to Where There is No Doctor.
Growing up in Ghana, the book “Where There is No Doctor” was very well-known. Kiosk vendors would refer to the book to help diagnose and treat sick customers. They would listen carefully to our symptoms, then refer to the book to learn what medicine to take and how often. The vendors that used the book got a good reputation in the community, and had a big advantage over their competitors.
There were no hospitals in the region. The closest one must have been 40 miles away, and it was a long and expensive trip. I and many others benefited from the advice in this book. It practically turned non-experts into doctors!”
A huge thank you to everyone who is helping to make this book become a reality. Our Have a Heart for Mali campaign recently passed the $11,000 mark! Please consider making a donation to help us to meet our goal of $20,000 by March 31.
Today, March 8th in celebrating International Women’s Day. Unfortunately, for many African women, pregnancy and childbirth is a death sentence. In Mali, 1 in 22 women will die from maternal health complications (compared to about 1 in 600 in the United States, or 1 in 1,400 in Australia). This graph, from an MPH thesis by Elizabeth Swedo at Emery University, powerfully summarizes one of the major reasons we launched the Dokotoro Project.
The book Where There is No Doctor contains a wealth of information on women’s health, including pregnancy, delivery, and reproductive health. Access to this medically-accurate, up-to-date information can save lives. That is why we chose to make Chapter 19, Information for Mothers and Midwives, one of the first chapters to be translated. Check out the draft version on our Downloads page.
And thank you to everyone who is helping to make this book become a reality. Our Have a Heart for Mali campaign is close to passing the $11,000 mark. Please consider making a donation to help us to meet our goal of $20,000 by March 31.