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Health Materials in 95 Languages for Your Next Medical Trip Overseas

  • May 8, 2018
  • Blog
Robin Young, Marketing and Outreach Manager, Hesperian Health Guides

Robin Young, Marketing and Outreach Manager, Hesperian Health Guides

Robin Young has served as Hesperian’s Marketing and Outreach Manager since 2012, a role which allows her to collaborate and work with Hesperian’s many global partners on a wide variety of health and education-focused projects.

Not long ago, Hesperian Health Guides released Un manual de salud para mujeres con discapacidad, the Spanish language edition of A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities.

“Espérate (Wait a minute),” we heard our bilingual readers say when the book was launched; “Shouldn’t that be MUJERES CON DISCAPACIDADES, in plural?”

Well, it could be, but it shouldn’t be.

When Hesperian translates a book into Spanish, we send the translation to be reviewed by individuals and groups around the world that will use the book when it is printed. Our partners look at word choice, overall meaning, suggested activities, and cultural issues to be sure that the book is an appropriate cultural translation, not only a linguistic one.

And the term “Mujeres con discapacidad” was the unanimous choice for the dozen or so women from a range of countries whom we asked.

Translation of Hesperian books is a labor of love, collaboration, and hard work — and the results are worth the effort.

Explore resources for midwives and women’s health.

Take for example the translation (now nearing completion) of Hesperian’s A Book for Midwives, by the African Birth Collective in Senegal. A long list of midwives from the Congo, Burkina Faso, Haiti, Guinea, and other francophone locations eagerly await its publication — and many have contributed to its translation and adaptation to the local context. The Collective undertook the translation project knowing that the book will have “a massive impact on midwifery practice,” since there are very few French language training materials available that are suited for rural birth attendants. And unlike many other resources, A Book for Midwives is simply written, easy to use, and contains many helpful illustrations that reinforce difficult concepts and valuable skills.

Or look to the tireless efforts of Dr. Aruna Uprety and the Rural Health Education Service Trust (RHEST) in Nepal, whose work to adapt 3 women’s health titles by Hesperian included 8 Nepali translators, 3 doctors, and 4 community-based groups and auxiliary nurse midwives who field-tested the Nepali translation to make sure that it was applicable and accessible to village health workers in Nepal. Dr. Uprety says: “We especially focused on the use of the Nepali language, to make it accessible to the reader and easy to understand. We often threw away whole translated sections and started over!”

Use translated resources on your next trip.

To date, Hesperian titles, including its flagship book Where There Is No Doctor (which has been called the most widely used public-health manual by the World Health Organization) as well as Where There Is No Dentist, Where Women Have No Doctor, A Book for Midwives, Disabled Village Children, Helping Health Workers Learn, Helping Children Who are Deaf, and many more have been translated into 95 languages, many of which are available as free PDF downloads on Hesperian’s website, in Hesperian’s free HealthWiki, or for purchase in print through the organization’s online bookstore. Hesperian’s website features all its titles in all formats in English and Spanish, and increasingly in other languages as well.

Why have Hesperian’s books been translated so many times?

Hesperian’s resources are trusted health references, serving equally well as educational and training materials. Unlike other medical texts, Hesperian’s materials are accessibly written and heavily illustrated, making them tremendously useful across languages and literacy levels, and in many different global settings.

Referencing Where There Is No Doctor, the journal Annals of Internal Medicine explains: “Home health care manuals are a dime a dozen, but this one is in a league by itself… This amazing manual successfully brings together modern concepts of public health and personal health care into a usable and understandable format for the Third World villager. If you are a physician, dentist or nurse planning to volunteer on a medical mercy mission, review this book ahead of time and take it with you.” – vol. 125, No.12

How can Hesperian resources support your next medical trip oversees? Visit the website, explore the bookstore, and browse the language list to find the combination of subjects, languages and formats best suited to your needs.

Contact us with questions or to share your story about using Hesperian resources in your work: hesperian@hesperian.org