Monday, July 07, 2008


A new guide to public health has just been published by the same foundation that 30 years ago issued “Where There Is No Doctor,” a simple but comprehensive how-to medical book endorsed by the World Health Organization and used by hundreds of Peace Corps volunteers.

The book, “A Community Guide to Environmental Health,” took eight years and $1.6 million to put together, said Jeff Conant, one of the authors. It is published by the Hesperian Foundation in Berkeley, Calif., and goes on sale Tuesday for $28.

The 600-page book is written in simple English and has hundreds of drawings showing, for example, how to disinfect water with boiling, bleach, sunlight or lime juice and how to make filters from sand, clay and charcoal. It has numerous designs for stoves that use less fuel; it has schematic drawings of simple fly and roach traps and bicycle-powered grinders and blenders. It devotes almost 40 pages just to toilets.

All the designs were field tested. Each chapter was vetted by outside experts and at least six foreign communities, Mr. Conant said.

Some are likely to raise eyebrows. The guide opposes genetically modified seeds, including those, like “golden rice,” ostensibly meant to help the poor. It opposes nuclear energy and fossil fuels. And it teaches communities how to organize opposition to harm from oil, mining and chemical companies and how to sue.

“It is controversial,” Mr. Conant said. “But the book is for grass-roots communities, a lot of whom suffer much more from mining and oil exploration than any benefits they reap. I suspect they’ll appreciate the perspective.”

Source - New York Times


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