A Doctor’s Quest


A doctor grapples with the challenges of mother and child health in the developing world.

Recounting medical missions in half of the thirty countries in which she has worked for the past twenty-five years in Africa, Asia, and the South Pacific - from Darfur in Sudan to Papua New Guinea and Bhutan - Dr. Gretchen Roedde shares the grim reality of world politics and bureaucratic red tape on the front lines as a doctor in mother-and-child health and HIV/AIDS.

A Doctor’s Quest tells the stories of the hopes of village women struggling to give birth safely, their often corrupt leaders, and countries trying to bring evil despots to justice. The book analyzes the slow progress in global maternal health, contrasting the affluence of the few with the precarious hold on survival of the world’s poorest, where economic realities force families to sell young girls into marriage at the age of thirteen to face higher risk of death from early child-bearing.


A Doctor's Quest offers a roller-coaster ride on a voyage into far-flung and sometimes dangerous territory, with thrills, spills, and occasional joy along the way.

This fine book demands, and deserves, slow and appreciative reading.

A Doctor’s Quest speaks in the voice of birthing women from the rural regions of 15 of the poorest countries around the world. Their tales of bravery in the face of delivering without trained birth attendants and the joys and the complications that occur are the substance of the book. Weave in the public health perspective on interrelated themes of literacy, contraception, health care delivery, rural health work shortage, social disruptions, sexual violence, inefficient health care systems and corruption, and the book becomes a compelling treatise on maternal health.

A Doctor’s Quest is an engaging and well-written and sometimes even humorous read that offers DFATD employees a different perspective on the challenges faced by health care workers trying to make a difference in the MNCH field.

About the Authors

Gretchen Roedde

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014
Gretchen Roedde photo

Gretchen Roedde

Gretchen Roedde, assistant professor at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, has been a physician since 1978. Working with Indigenous and marginalized communities, she practises near Lake Temiskaming. She has also worked as a public health doctor in the developing world, specializing in mother-and-child health and HIV/AIDS. Gretchen lives in Haileybury, Ontario

John Evans

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014

John Evans

Dr. John Evans was the founding director of the Population, Health, and Nutrition Department of the World Bank; the former chair of the Board of Directors of the Rockefeller Foundation from 1987 to 1995; the founding dean of the McMaster University Medical School; and the president of the University of Toronto from 1972 to 1978. He remains active in work supporting non-governmental organizations in developing countries.