A vital initiative to inform migrants on Covid

A Cork company has collaborated with the HSE to create videos in different languages to inform the public about the pandemic, says GRAHAM CLIFFORD, CEO of Translate Ireland
A vital initiative to inform migrants on Covid

MESSAGE: A collage of some of the presenters in the Translate Ireland video

TRANSLATE Ireland, an Irish-company founded just last December in Cork, has collaborated with HSE Social Inclusion to develop multilingual video messages on the Covid-19 vaccine in Ireland.

The video messages were made available on Wednesday last week on TranslateIreland.ie and also shared on HSElive.ie

Presented by doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals originally from overseas but now living in Ireland, the video messages have been carefully made ensuring cultural appropriateness and clear communication.

The scale and scope of this multilingual project has been immense, unlike any such project undertaken before in the country.

This is a positive story in terms of Ireland’s approach to vaccine roll-out. No other country in the world has done this as comprehensively. The amount of content produced is massive.

It’s a game-changer in how we communicate with migrants and in the context of the pandemic is hugely important. This news impacts everyone — not just migrants

In the USA, the UK, Japan and other countries across the world, a shortage of adequate multilingual resources has led directly to a poor uptake of the vaccine amongst some migrant communities.

By working with HSE Social Inclusion, we’ve been able to produce video messages in 36-different languages.

I’m so proud that Ireland has become a world leader in sharing such important information with migrants.

We believe this will inform those who might have otherwise missed mainstream information campaigns or who struggle with literacy.

There are many migrants here, and across the world, who will not consume local media or be aware of local health programmes and initiatives.

The video messages have been produced in Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Chinese (Mandarin), Croatian, Czech, English, Filipino, French, Georgian, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Kurdish Sorani, Latvian, Lingala, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Moldovan, Pashto, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tamil, Tigrinya, Ukrainian, Urdu, Yoruba and Zulu.

Some of the video messages are produced specifically for people living in Direct Provision centres in Ireland.

Amongst the presenters are consultants, surgeons, general practitioners, nurses, psychotherapists and medical health researchers.

The initiative is also supported by the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP).

Graham Clifford, CEO of Translate Ireland
Graham Clifford, CEO of Translate Ireland

“In the context of a pandemic its so important for everyone that information reaches all sections of society — including those for whom English is limited. Accurate information is essential for confidence in the vaccines. This benefits individuals and wider society,” explains Translate Ireland’s medical lead Dr Catherine Clifford.

According to the last census almost 90,000 people in Ireland say they not not speak English at all or, if so, at a poor level.

The vaccine information video messages is being distributed by the HSE and via migrant groups and networks in Ireland.

Dr Taciane Alegra, a Brazilian paediatrician in Ireland who presents video messages in Portuguese with Translate Ireland, said: “When we talk about public health strategies, like vaccination or preventing spread of infections, we all understand how essential it is to engage all individuals in the community.

“It is so relevant to engage migrants, talking to them in a way that not only they can understand, but also in a way that they feel part of the society and engage to play their role. Amid challenging days for migrants, Ireland is showing an example of engagement and acceptance of other human beings, independent of their motherland.”

Sophia Egan, an Infectious Diseases Surveillance Assistant in Cork who presents in Swahili, echoed those sentiments, saying: ‘The phrase ‘Lost in translation’ is not a myth. Health campaigns, particularly in times of a public health emergency, can be more effective when everyone in the population clearly understands the information presented and in a language and terms they are more familiar with.”

The HSE has also created printed vaccine information resources available from HSE.ie.

The vaccine information video messages are shared on TranslateIreland.ie — where people can also get multilingual video messages on topics such as Covid-19 safety in the workplace, serial testing for workers in certain sectors, mental health, cervical check screening, the Covid19 Tracker App and on other aspects of health.

And in the coming months the company is hoping to extend its reach beyond Ireland to work with health executives in other jurisdictions.

Our work is relevant across the globe. The same issues and hurdles which arise in Ireland arise in other countries too — not just in relation to Covid19.

The key is knowing how to recruit presenters, construct messaging which is informative, appropriate and impactful and then knowing how to distribute that messaging effectively.

We know that video messaging can be a very important tool in sharing vital health information leading to better health outcomes and efficiencies for health service providers.

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