Medilingua Press Releases

Rethinking the role of translation in a connected world


Rethinking the role of translation in a connected world


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Press Release | MediLingua Medical Translations B.V.

MAY 01, 2015

Leiden, Netherlands: – For Dutch-based life sciences translation specialist MediLingua, recent medical crises like the Ebola epidemic in West Africa have led to a transformation in the way translators work and partner with others.

MediLingua founder and CEO Simon Andriesen says disasters such as the Haiti earthquake, the Ebola crisis and, most recently, the Nepal earthquake have also sparked global reappraisal of the roles of translation and processing of information in combating medical crises.

Based on his experience in working in African languages in his role as director of Translators without Borders (TWB), Mr. Andriesen is urging governments and NGOs to recognize the importance of language and communication in mitigating the effects of disease and disaster, claiming that many lives could have been saved if the correct lessons had been learned earlier.

“Aid workers must be able to address local people in their own language. In the Ebola countries, in Haiti and in Nepal, English is not understood at all. Even in Kenya, the vast majority of people simply do not understand Ebola warning posters in English, even though it is officially one of the national languages,” says Simon Andriesen.

Virtual networking

“We created a ‘Spider Network’ that uses Skype and other channels to connect mainly teachers, as they are likely to be able to speak better English, and they also speak the local dialect. Using Skype enables us to have someone very rapidly translate urgent information into very specific languages for us, passing the translation to the next village and the next, passing translations between each other and back to the staff at our translation center in Nairobi, so that the whole network takes the form of a virtual spider web,” Andriesen explained.

“It was also Skype that enabled the founder of TWB, Lori Thicke, to callme the day after the 2010 Haiti earthquake and seek my help on translation of medical information,” Simon Andriesen recalls.

“TWB had received hundreds of test translations from volunteers and these needed review for accuracy and she needed our help. From there, one thing led to another,” said Mr. Andriesen, who since then has joined the TWB Board of Directors.

“Initially, I focused on Operations and redirected my energies to Training once the TWB Translation Workspace, generously donated by ProZ, was up and running.

“Now Skype allows the Executive Board and TWB Program Director Rebecca Petras to meet virtually every two weeks and basically run the organization,” he added.

The experience of Haiti led Petras, Thicke and Andriesen to co-author a journal article Translation: providing the missing link in access to knowledge published by the Harvard International Review in which they highlighted the opportunities provided by the increasing diversity of the Internet to extend medical communications services further and span ‘the language last mile’.

Combating Ebola

Mr. Andriesen recently returned from his twelfth trip to Kenya over the past few years, working at the TWB Translators Training Center in Nairobi.

The eight-strong translation team has been involved in the translation of a 300,000-word body of disaster relief documents, into Swahili and partly also into Somali.

The team has also recruited and trained a so-called ‘spider network’ of crisis intervention translators for 12 different Kenyan languages.

“When crises, such as flood, drought, cholera, civil war or Ebola, occur, these translators are asked to drop whatever they are doing and start translating whatever needs to be translated in order to help people survive the crisis,” he explained.

Although TWB’s translation center in Nairobi is its hub for African languages, the organization is also active in other African countries.

“Recently we have been involved in translating a range of Ebola-related documents into several West African languages, and we also organised two training sessions for translators for ‘Ebola-languages’, said Mr. Andriesen.

“The rapid escalation of the Ebola crisis was due in part to a lack of knowledge and lack of clear communication. If people had known, from the start of this outbreak, what to do and what not to do, it is unlikely to have become such a terrible crisis or to have claimed some 8,500 lives,” he declared.

“It does not help when governments or NGOs distribute English or French Ebola warning posters in areas where hardly anyone speaks those languages.”

Thinking global, acting local

With 14 per cent of the world’s population, 28 per cent of the world’s health burden, but only three per cent of the world’s doctors, nurses and clinics, Africa has too many patients and too few doctors.

“The success of our ‘Spider Network’ in mobilizing local dialect translation in Africa shows what can be done with the help of new technology and a little imagination,” says Simon Andriesen.

“In developing nation settings, local context for health information and health education are essential. It is a given that the more a person knows about health, the healthier they usually are. A truly effective response needs to provide language support and translations, translators who also have medical training. We need to convince governments and NGOs that language matters,” said Mr. Andriesen.

“A relatively small investment in translation has a huge return on investment resulting in fewer visits to doctors and clinics, less disruption of the local economies, and – above all – less human suffering,” he added.

Quality deficit

Mr. Andriesen also highlights what he perceives as a quality gap in the current market for medical translation.

“As medical translation specialists we do a lot third-party review work, and far too often, we have to conclude that the quality is simply not good enough. Big companies often seem to seek the lowest price and then we often have to decline invitations to tender or participate in auctions.

“It seems that often the price is taken into account, and not the price/performance mix. Too often the focus is on the word rate. We know what it takes to generate safe, high-quality medical translations and we use that expertise for our calculations.

“Others may charge less. But what if the authorities reject the work? What if a product has to be taken off the market due to poor patient information? What if a patient dies because it was not clear whether to take four tablets per hour or one tablet every four hours? What are the costs then?”

“And before you say that last one could never happen, I can tell you that exactly that dosage confusion arose in one patient information leaflet that I have seen,” said Mr. Andriesen.

About MediLingua

MediLingua Medical Translations B.V. is a company based in Leiden, Netherlands, that specializes in medical and healthcare translations from and into all European languages as well as several non-European languages, including Japanese, Chinese, Swahili and many others.

The company has over 30 years of translation business expertise and translation teams based in over 40 target language countries. The teams combine medical and linguistic skills to offer specialist services to pharmaceutical and life sciences organizations that include translation and generation of compliant registration dossiers for medicines, packaging texts, patient information, text books and scientific publications. MediLingua also offers source text editing, expert review, in-country validation, cognitive debriefing, use testing, back translation and readability testing services.

More information at: www.pharmaceutical-networking.com/supplier/medilingua

About Translators without Borders

Translators without Borders envision a world where knowledge knows no language barriers. The US-based nonprofit provides people access to vital knowledge in their language by connecting nonprofit organizations with a professional community of volunteer translators, building local language translation capacity, and raising awareness of language barriers. Originally founded in 1994 in France as Traducteurs sans Frontières (now its sister organization), Translators without Borders translates more than five million words per year. In 2012, the organization established a Healthcare Translators’ Training Center in Nairobi, Kenya.

For more information, see: http://translatorswithoutborders.org

Media Contacts

Simon Andriesen, CEO, MediLingua
Tel: +31 71 568 0862
Email: simon.andriesen@medilingua.com

Resources

Click on Rethinking the role of translation in a connected world or full text of Harvard International Review article.
Click on Translation: providing the missing link in access to knowledge for more information.
Click on MediLingua to contact the company directly.


Supplier Information
Supplier: MediLingua Medical Translations B.V.
Address: Poortgebouw – Rijnsburgerweg 10, 2333 AA Leiden, The Netherlands
Tel: +31 71 568 0862
Fax: +31 71 523 4660
Website: www.medilingua.com


MediLingua CEO helps apply translation expertise to combat Ebola


MediLingua CEO helps apply translation expertise to combat Ebola


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Press Release | MediLingua Medical Translations B.V.

OCTOBER 25, 2014

Leiden, Netherlands: – A Dutch translation specialist working to combat Ebola in West Africa says knowledge and understanding are the keys to defeating the virus that has so far claimed some 7,000 victims.

Simon Andriesen, founder and CEO of the Dutch-based medical translation and writing specialists MediLingua, is working with the not-for-profit organization Translators Without Borders (TWB) in Africa.

Andriesen, who is a board member of TWB, has joined a team that has redeployed from healthcare in Kenya to join the emergency response to Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

Ebola information posters

The TWB team has been working to prepare leaflets and posters in a range of languages spoken in Africa, including Hausa, Krioand Swahili, to help people understand how to protect themselves from the virus.

“In an area with 1 doctor for every 75,000 persons, health information is life-saving, especially during this crisis. Ebola kills, for sure, but people also die for lack of health information in a language they can understand. So far, the fight against Ebola has been hampered by ignorance, misunderstanding and rumor,” says Andriesen.

“The key things here are to build trust among threatened populations that the authorities really are trying to help them and that the advice they’re getting from the medical teams can save lives,” he added.

Translation network

“At Translators Without Borders, we have been working very hard to bridge the gaps by providing people with information they can trust and understand in their native language,” said Andriesen.

He has been working closely with TWB founder and president, Lori Thicke, to create a new network of medical experts and native speaking translators in many parts of Africa, stand-by to produce local-language crisis intervention messages when Ebola strikes in their part of the world.

Interviewed recently on BBC World Service radio, Ms. Thicke said providing effective written information in native languages could help compensate for chronic lack of doctors and nurses on the ground.

The interview with Lori Thicke is available at: https://soundcloud.com/bbc-world-service/world-update-translators-without-borders-take-on-ebola

Click here to see an example of one of the translated Ebola posters.

About Translators Without Borders

Traducteurs sans Frontières (TSF) was founded in 1993 by Lori Thicke and Ros Smith-Thomas to link the world’s translators to vetted NGOs that focus on health, nutrition and education.

TSF’s American sister non-profit organization, Translators without Borders (TWB), is also a volunteer organization run by an eight-strong board of directors, which assists in translating more than two million words per year for NGOs such as Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders), Médecins du Monde, Action Against Hunger, Oxfam US and Handicap International.

The organization’s mission is to increase access to knowledge through humanitarian translations. By developing an open digital platform and establishing organizational structure, Translators Without Borders hopes to increase that number to 10 million words or more every year.

More information at: http://translatorswithoutborders.org

About MediLingua

MediLingua Medical Translations B.V. is a company based in Leiden, Netherlands, that specializes in medical and healthcare translations from and into all European languages as well as several non-European languages, including Japanese, Chinese, Swahili and many others.

The company has over 30 years of translation business expertise and translation teams based in over 40 target language countries. The teams combine medical and linguistic skills to offer specialist services to pharmaceutical and life sciences organizations that include translation and generation of compliant registration dossiers for medicines, packaging texts, patient information, text books and scientific publications. MediLingua also offers source text editing, expert review, in-country validation, cognitive debriefing, use testing, back translation and readability testing services.

More information at: www.pharmaceutical-networking.com/supplier/medilingua

Media Contacts

Simon Andriesen, CEO, MediLingua
Tel: +31 71 568 0862
Email: simon.andriesen@medilingua.com

Resources

Click on on MediLingua CEO helps apply translation expertise to combat Ebola for more information.
Click on MediLingua to contact the company directly.


Ebola Virus Poster

Ebola Virus Poster.2

Ebola Virus Poster 5


Supplier Information
Supplier: MediLingua Medical Translations B.V.
Address: Poortgebouw – Rijnsburgerweg 10, 2333 AA Leiden, The Netherlands
Tel: +31 71 568 0862
Fax: +31 71 523 4660
Website: www.medilingua.com


MediLingua CEO applies translation knowledge to help increase medical access in Africa


MediLingua CEO applies translation knowledge to help increase medical access in Africa


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Press Release | MediLingua Medical Translations B.V.

SEPTEMBER 22, 2014

Leiden, Netherlands: -Simon Andriesen, founder and CEO of the Netherlands-based medical translation and writing specialists MediLingua, says his collaboration with the not-for-profit organization Translators Without Borders (TWB) in Kenya is making a real difference on the ground.

Andriesen, who is a board member of TWB, has been working pro bono for the past few years with the organization in Nairobi, helping to create a new translation infrastructure to bring access to medical advice and understanding to millions of non-English speaking Kenyans.

“On the TWB website, we have an automated counter that shows the number of words we have translated for free, using volunteer-translators for dozens of language combinations. That counter has now passed 20 million words, with a ‘street value’ in Europe of around 4 million Euros and rising,” said Andriesen.

“The content of those words is much more important than the monetary value. What they do is to open up access to vital information for many of the 5 billion people in the world who do not speak English.”

New translation teams

Andriesen and fellow TWB volunteers have been working to recruit and train a new generation of Kenyans to translate medical information from English into Swahili, the language most widely spoken in Kenya and neighboring countries, and for which there are hardly any translators around. This work requires much more than language skills.

“The whole point about medical translation is that it requires the translator to possess understanding of life sciences concepts and terminology as well. This is a specialist discipline,” Andriesen reflected.

“For example, it is common for medical and scientific errors to be caused in translation by lay reviewers who struggle to make the original text clear and readable and try to overcome the problem by adding or removing words, unintentionally changing the original meaning with potentially disastrous results for patient safety,” he warned.

Simon Andriesen first became involved with TWB in the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

“Lori Thicke, TWB’s founder, called me the day after. TWB had received hundreds of test translations from volunteer translators who wanted to contribute and she asked for MediLingua’s support in reviewing them, as most of these were medical. One thing led to another and I was invited to join the Board, focusing first on Operations, and later redirecting my focus to Training. It is a lot of work and I am constantly amazed by the dedication of the directors, and the amount of time they put into it,” said Andriesen.

Leading language campus

The TWB translation center is based in Nairobi, co-located with the Bible Translation and Literacy (BTL) organisation.

“Our campus represents possibly the largest concentration of language experts in Africa,” says Simon Andriesen.

“Together, with the SIL organization, that develops the Ethnologue (a database listing and describing all 7,000 current world languages, we have around 75 people, all professionally involved in translation, linguistics, or language research, which makes this a really exciting and stimulating environment for our TWB team,” he comments.

So far, more than 125 trainees have completed our one-week introduction to translation, with at least 30 progressing to the six-week advanced course.

“All of the translators and editors who currently work in our center have followed the advanced course, and have been with us for between 12 and 24 months,” notes Andriesen.

Special projects

“We have spent most of our time working on health, education and crisis translation projects, including training materials for community health workers, medical articles from Wikipedia, repair instruction manuals for water pumps, books for very young children, subtitles and voice-overs for health videos,” said Andriesen.

“During the summer we began translating a library of messages and text segments on a variety of topics prepared for distribution during crises as part of our Words of Relief special project,” he reported.

“The TWB center will soon start training new people to become translators for a range of 12 different Kenyan languages, trained to use translation memory tools and to learn specific requirements for the translation of the message library. These trainees will be members of the Words of Relief ‘spider’ network we are building of people who will be translating into their local languages in times of crisis,” Mr. Andriesen added.

He paid tribute to MediLingua’s generosity in allowing him to take an extended sabbatical leave in order to get the project established.

Lessons of Ebola

“Over the past two years we have built up contacts with more NGOs who are interested in the language support we can provide. Many of these organizations tell us we are the area’s best-kept secret when it comes to translation,” said Andriesen.

“I can understand that: In Africa it is hard to find a dozen trained translators in one office, with computers, internet access, and translation tools, who can translate health and technical information and who are prepared to drop everything to translate crisis documents when disease, war, tsunami, earthquake or famine strikes.”

“The Ebola crisis in West Africa has shown how important infrastructure, knowledge and communication become when disaster threatens non-English speaking communities,” Andriesen said.

Mr. Andriesen said TWB was still looking for more translators, project managers, graphic or web page designers, fundraising specialists and database managers gurus and urged “anyone with skills and energy to offer to a really wonderful project” to contact the organization at http://translatorswithoutborders.org/Volunteers

About Translators Without Borders

Traducteurs sans Frontières (TSF) was founded in 1993 by Lori Thicke and Ros Smith-Thomas to link the world’s translators to vetted NGOs that focus on health, nutrition and education.

TSF’s American sister non-profit organization, Translators without Borders (TWB), is also a volunteer organization run by an eight-strong board of directors, which assists in translating more than two million words per year for NGOs such as Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders), Médecins du Monde, Action Against Hunger, Oxfam US and Handicap International.

The organization’s mission is to increase access to knowledge through humanitarian translations. By developing an open digital platform and establishing organizational structure, Translators Without Borders hopes to increase that number to 10 million words or more every year.

More information at: http://translatorswithoutborders.org

About MediLingua

MediLingua Medical Translations B.V. is a company based in Leiden, Netherlands, that specializes in medical and healthcare translations from and into all European languages as well as several non-European languages, including Japanese, Chinese, Swahili and many others.

The company has over 30 years of translation business expertise and translation teams based in over 40 target language countries. The teams combine medical and linguistic skills to offer specialist services to pharmaceutical and life sciences organizations that include translation and generation of compliant registration dossiers for medicines, packaging texts, patient information, text books and scientific publications.

MediLingua also offers source text editing, expert review, in-country validation, cognitive debriefing, use testing, back translation and readability testing services.

More information at: www.pharmaceutical-networking.com/supplier/medilingua

Media Contacts

Simon Andriesen, CEO, MediLingua
Tel: +31 71 568 0862
Email: simon.andriesen@medilingua.com

Resources

Click on MediLingua CEO applies translation knowledge to help increase medical access in Africa for more information.
Click on MediLingua to contact the company directly.


Supplier Information
Supplier: MediLingua Medical Translations B.V.
Address: Poortgebouw – Rijnsburgerweg 10, 2333 AA Leiden, The Netherlands
Tel: +31 71 568 0862
Fax: +31 71 523 4660
Website: www.medilingua.com