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World first - health videos in 17 languages

 	Drs Catherine Clifford, Uzma Shakeen, Sura Aldeen

Caption: Dr. Catherine Clifford, Uzma Shakeen and Dr. Sura Aldeen  

The HSE recently launched a series of multilingual videos on the Irish health service that were developed to make health advice more accessible to people from migrant communities living in Ireland. 

17 languages

According to the 2016 Census, there are over 600,000 people in Ireland (13% of the overall population) who are multi-lingual, speaking a language other than Irish or English at home. The videos, which have been produced in 17 different languages, offer clear information on important health topics such as how the Irish health system works, accessing different types of health care, services that are free and information on pregnancy, newborn and maternal health. 

Healthcare systems vary significantly from country to country, and navigating an unfamiliar health service on arrival in a new country has been shown to be a stressful experience and can result in a lack of access to essential services.These videos are presented in a personal, relatable and culturally appropriate manner, using simple language. The videos are presented by native speakers, who are also healthcare workers based in Ireland.  People are often reassured when they see a member of their own community delivering factual, trustworthy health information in the videos.

Speaking at the launch, Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly T.D., said: 

“Language can be a barrier for people from migrant groups in accessing healthcare services. This collaboration will be of critical importance in addressing this challenge and ensuring that all communities can access healthcare services in a timely manner. I would like to thank the HSE, Translate Ireland and all other stakeholders in helping to ensure that people from all communities can share in the health gains in Irish society.” 

Dr Margaret Fitzgerald, Public Health lead for social inclusion, HSE National Social Inclusion Office, said: 

“Understanding and navigating the health service has been made simpler through ‘My Health My Language’, a series of multilingual videos aimed at migrants and people with limited English-language skills. We know from our work to reduce inequity in the health service that language and cultural differences can be barriers to people accessing the healthcare they need.  These videos provide us with a powerful tool to speak to people living in Ireland in their native language and overcome some of these barriers. Very often, inclusivity benefits everyone. 

“The closed captions in the relevant language on each of the videos assist not only people watching in their native language, but also people who are deaf or have hearing impairments, as well as viewers watching with the sound off. We were delighted to have worked closely with Translate Ireland, ICGP and colleagues in the HSE in the development of these videos. Thanks to all the wonderful clinicians who took time out of their busy schedules during the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent Ukrainian crisis to participate in the videos.”

Graham Clifford, CEO, Translate Ireland, said:

“This is a world first - while a handful of health systems worldwide provide a limited number of multilingual resources - none offer such a comprehensive resource bank created by medical health workers who have moved to that country. Ireland and the HSE are leading the way now in terms of Migrant Health communication and this is a win-win for both the patient and the health service with the potential to improve health outcomes, lead to greater efficiency in the health service and build even closer patient-practitioner relationships.

 "The 'My Health My Language' resource is unique in that it provides people with visual multilingual health messaging delivered by healthcare workers from across the world. This benefits the patient, the medical practitioner and the healthcare system and we, at Translate Ireland, were honoured to work on this incredibly comprehensive resource with the HSE Social Inclusion Office. Our special thanks goes to all those doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers from across the world, but now working in the Irish healthcare system, for presenting these videos with us. We're so proud to have worked with you on this together.”

The videos were produced by the HSE’s National Social Inclusion Office with support from Translate Ireland, the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP), and the HSE’s, National Immunisation Office (NIO), Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme and other healthcare workers. 

Dr Kateryna Kachurets, who is a Dublin-based General Practitioner, born and raised in Kyiv, Ukraine, and who has worked as a doctor in Ireland since 2016, said:

“With the recent arrivals of Ukrainians to Ireland, it was important to record videos on Irish healthcare in my native language. These videos are a great resource for people from Ukraine whose healthcare system differs in many ways. 

 “Educating the newly arrived Ukrainians on various services available to them in Ireland and about screening programs was of great value to them as well as the Irish healthcare professionals. As someone who has been practicing medicine here for the last six years, I can relate to the difficulties both doctors and patients are facing when there's a language barrier. I believe that health promotion and education in one's native language are paramount in facilitating better medical care as well as patient satisfaction.” 

The videos are available in 17 languages: English, Irish, Arabic, Czech, French, Georgian, Chinese (simplified), Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Somali, Ukrainian, Urdu.