June project update

Illustration from "Là Où Il n’y a Pas de Docteur"

Illustration from “Là Où Il n’y a Pas de Docteur”

The Dokotoro project met for their June steering committee a few weeks ago and we are steadily plugging away!

One key discussion item related to the forthcoming “fully revamped” edition of Where There Is No Doctor, which Hesperian will release around 2020. Until then, Hesperian is periodically posting a few new chapters at a time on its website. Some of the information (such as the material in “Belly Pain, Diarrhea and Worms”) can be found in the current 2013 version, but it is re-organized and re-presented. Other material is completely new (such as a lengthy chapter on Water and Sanitation). We have to decide how to incorporate the changes and whether to translate the new material. Every new chapter we decide to incorporate will naturally require additional effort and cost.

We also had a report-back from a meeting that a few Steering Committee members held with Hesperian regarding its agreement with the Senegalese NGO Enda. Enda has exclusive rights to distribute the French West Africa edition of the book in the region. We use Enda’s edition as one of our base texts, as it includes culturally-appropriate illustrations and some region-specific information. However, we also use WTIND 2013 for its medically-updated information. A key question is whether we will be allowed to incorporate our French “back-translation” (a French translation of our Bambara text, which produce in order to make it easier to update the book in the future)  into a bilingual French-Bambara edition.

Finally, the committee discussed the exciting prospect of field testing a few of our draft chapters. Steering Committee member and African Sky Executive Director Scott Lacy will be leading these efforts. Scott is a Professor of Anthropology at Fairfield University and visits Mali frequently. Also, several colleague organizations have offered to share draft chapters with health care educators and providers. More on this soon!

Another successful, fun Hackathon!

hackathon2Thanks so much to the volunteers who turned out this past weekend for our 2nd Dokotoro Hackathon! And special thanks to the group of social work students and teachers from Bordeaux, France who were visiting San Francisco for the week and gave up some of their precious time to be with us.

With the help of a dozen people, we made some great progress with proofreading, formatting, “cross-walking” (our term for comparing different versions of Where There is No Doctor, such as the outdated French West Africa version and the new 2013 English edition) and other tasks that are central to the project. As a result of this productive afternoon, we can expect to see new chapters posted online soon!

After a good four hours of work, we all retired to a nearby park for a Malian-style barbeque featuring brochetti, plantains and beer. Although we didn’t have bottles of Castel on hand (and even though the meat was threaded on bamboo skewers, not bicycle spokes — the only authentic way to do it, really), the mood was definitely Malian in spirit. All in all, the afternoon was a nice tribute to a country we love.

We look forward to our next one!

Découvrir le projet dokotoro

En 2012, un petit groupe d’amis, la plupart desquels ayant étaient des volontaires au sein du Peace Corps au Mali (en Afrique de l’ouest), ont décidé de s’unir pour traduire le livre Là où il n’y a pas de docteur en bambara, une langue parlée au Mali et dans ces pays environnants. On a décidé d’intituler cette association « le Projet dokotoro » (ou Dokotoro Project en anglais), étant donné que dokotoro veut dire docteur en bambara.

Là où il n’y a pas de docteur est un manuel de médecine générale de 600 pages qui est facile à lire et riche en illustrations, publié par le Hesperian Foundation. Il est écrit principalement pour les agents de santé communautaires et les éducateurs aux pays en voie de développement, où les services de soins de santé sont limités. C’est le manuel de médecine le plus utilisé du monde. Aux États-Unis et dans d’autres pays développés c’est bien connu dans les milieux des volontaires au sein du Peace corps, des travailleurs humanitaires, et des missionnaires.

Healthcare Information for All

I recently learned about the global campaign Healthcare Information for All by 2015. The project, launched in Mombasa, Kenya in 2006, has a vision of “a world where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare knowledge” and is working “to improve the availability and use of healthcare information in developing countries.” Great stuff. The organization is free to join, has over 10,000 members, and hosts several active email message groups.

Community Health Worker

Recently, HIFA 2015 announced its first SMART goal: Mobile Healthcare Information For All. What does SMART mean? It’s a bit of management jargon that refers to a goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Here’s the goal:

By 2015, at least one telecoms provider, in at least one country, will endorse the vision of Healthcare Information For All, and will provide free access to essential healthcare knowledge in the local language, pre-loaded on all new mobile phones they may sell and freely downloadable to all those who already have a mobile phone.

This Goal was proposed and will be led by the HIFA 2012-15 Challenge Working Group, which is specifically concerned with the health information needs of citizens, parents and children, in recognition of the huge (and largely unrealised) potential of mobile phones to meet basic healthcare information needs of citizens, parents and children.

A draft concept note is available on their website, describing how this would work. I think it’s an exciting goal, and one that could really help people in developing countries. Who knows? In a few years from now, maybe anyone in Mali will be able to read Where There is No Doctor on their cell phone… Maybe we can interest Orange or Malitel!

Friday Party: Papa Gaoussou Diarra

For your Friday amusment, some gender-bending song and dance with Malian singer (and comedian?) Papa Gaoussou Diarra.

Amazing to see this on Youtube. This was a huge hit in the summer in Mali in 1996. Everywhere you went, kids would yell out to skinny people, “pekele!” And fat people were “niansanfari.” As far as I know, those were totally made up words.

Join our 2nd Hackathon in Oakland on June 22

If you’ve wanted to get involved with the Dokotoro Project and live in the Bay Area, join us for our second “hackathon“-style work party on Saturday, June 22. We’ll meet at a comfortable office in downtown Oakland, a short walk from the 12th Street BART. The work party is planned from noon to 4 pm, and then we’ll have a barbecue and drinks.


Volunteers with all types of skills are welcome! We’ll be editing and formatting text in English, French, and Bambara, and possibly grant writing and wiki editing.

When: Saturday, June 22, noon to 4 pm
Where: downtown Oakland, a short walk from the 12th Street BART
Bring:  a laptop if you have one
RSVP: jenna@doktoro.org