The HSW Literary Agency



Dr. Gretchen Roedde

Born in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Gretchen Roedde grew up on Toronto Island. She studied anthropology at the University of Toronto and medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton. She worked extensively in northern Ontario training Aboriginal health workers in remote settlements, taught health workers from developing countries in Liverpool England, and then began a career that took her to Africa, Asia, the South Pacific, and the Caribbean on medical missions. She now combines planning and evaluating health programs in developing countries with a general medical practice in the Temiskaming Region of northern Ontario.

Work on Offer:

A Doctor’s Quest: The Struggle for Mother and Child Health Around the Globe
Dundurn Press, 2012

“…contrasts our affluence and indifference with the precarious hold on survival of the World’s poorest…”

Recounting medical missions spanning twenty years in Africa, Asia, the South Pacific and the Caribbean, from slave camps in Darfur Sudan to the fluttering prayer flags in the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, Dr. Gretchen Roedde has experienced the grim reality of world politics, bureaucratic red tape, and witnessed millions of dollars worth of medicines rotting in shipping yards. This is a book of her experiences on the front lines in over twenty-five countries working as a doctor in mother and child health and HIV and AIDS. It tells the stories of the village people she has been privileged to meet, and their often corrupt leaders. It shows countries trying to bring evil despots to justice. It shares the hopes of women struggling to give birth safely. It contrasts our affluence and indifference 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.

HIV/AIDS has captured political attention and mobilized money for treatment in poor countries, but basic prevention lags far behind and the poverty and inequality driving the epidemic are largely ignored. Huge resources have been directed to fight the major diseases of AIDS, TB and malaria, but the 600,000 women who die giving birth each year are largely invisible. These are the stories of real people that do not get told in technical reports full of development jargon.  

Manuscript available
Rights: Translation

Praise for A Doctor’s Quest:

“...a compelling treatise on maternal health. A Doctor’s Quest is a tome that is hard to put down, but it is not an easy read. The faces of misogyny, violence, poverty, broken promises and lack of will are ugly ones that many would prefer not to see. Dr. Gretchen Roedde is not shy about shining a light in those areas she knows all too well...Gretchen Roedde and her book are an inspiration.”

-- Canadian Journal of Rural Medecine

“I found A Doctor’s Quest impossible to put down. It’s full of vivid characters and situations, and at the same time is a breathtaking account of the lot of millions of impoverished women. This is a story we need to know and Roedde, with her wide experience and no-nonsense compassion, is just the person to tell it.”

-- John Bemrose, The Island Walkers

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

-- Isabel Huggan, author of Belonging: Home Away from Home

“Undeterred by political obstruction, intransigent bureaucracies and threats to personal safety, Dr. Roedde’s experience demonstrates that an individual with remarkable patience, persistence and unshakeable human values can overcome formidable obstacles and really make a difference.”

-- Dr. John Evans, Founding Director of Population, Health & Nutrition Department of the World Bank and former Chair of the Board of Directors of the Rockefeller Foundation