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Hepatitis B is a silent epidemic in the West African community and using African language translation for education of the community in the U.S. can help with the World Health Organization’s  (WHO) goal of eliminating viral hepatitis – hep B and C – as a major public threat by 2030.

The Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is everywhere, but the prevalence of infection varies across different regions of the world. According to the World Health Organization, about two billion people have been in contact with HBV worldwide, with more than 240 million cases of chronic infections. About 80 to 120 million cases of chronic HBV infection occur in sub-Saharan Africa. Indeed, hepatitis B is highly endemic in West Africa, with the highest prevalence in the world (> 8%). In sub-Saharan Africa, about 47% of HCC, which is the most common type of liver cancer, have been attributed to HBV. Despite the availability of a vaccine, HBV remains a major public health problem, with approximately 686 thousand deaths per year worldwide due to the consequences (cirrhosis and HCC) of this infection.

African language translation and Hep B

One of the strategies used in the education of at risk communities is to provide resources that discuss the facts on how it is transmitted, how it is spread and how one can advocate for their health and protection.  In presenting the facts, resources such as these used with African language translation and Hep B also debunk the myths on transmission and spread which is just as important as knowing the facts.  In our specialty with healthcare translation, we partner with our client, Gilead Sciences, to translate these resources in a variety of languages. In an effort to help a community based center in the Bronx, NY, we recently completed a brochure on Understanding Hep B in the Twi, Hausa and Igbo languages.  The Bronx is home to an estimated 120,000 native West Africans, roughly 10-15% of whom may be infected with hepatitis B.  Gaining access to this community and their trust calls for cultural competency and language is part of that competency.

African language translation and Hep B

Igbo translation of Hep B brochure

Correct and accurate translations in these African languages can be a difficult task and our process of quality began with these important considerations:

  • Selection of team members in West African languages that not only were professional translators but also had experience in healthcare interpreting or working with patients in a healthcare setting
  • Controlled use of glossaries with accurate terminology
  • Use of terminology that was patient friendly but also that which aligned with the native speaking patient navigators at the medical center





African language translation and Hep B

Twi translation of Hep B brochure

Our process here at Language Solutions for finding the right translators for a project can be extensive.  We search our resources and databases of translators and look for the qualifications that we feel are necessary for each project.  We prefer to choose a translator and an editor for each project and we do not outsource to multilanguage translation providers.  We then have conversations with each translator and look at their past experience and references.  With some languages such as these West African languages, there are not a lot of professional resources. For these 3 languages, we wanted to ensure that correct terminology was being used for medical terms such as cirrhosis, liver cancer, etc.

After extensive searching, we were able to find medical glossaries in each language that were developed during the Ebola crisis and these glossaries were to ensure standardization in language translation for patient education. They were compiled by medical personnel and were invaluable to us to have as a resource, especially when working with new teams.  It incurs a lot of project management time to ensure that you have chosen the best teams for your project and it is one of our core processes in our success in healthcare translations.  Other translation companies may just choose to submit the work to the cheapest translator but that is never how we have chosen to work.

One of our Twi language translation team members was also a Peace Corps Trainer in Ghana. As an RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer) myself, I know the rigor that is applied in language training in the Peace Corps and the qualifications that one must have as a teacher.  I was thrilled to have found him and he was impeccable as a expert grammarian and editor on the project.

It is particularly satisfying when you know you have the right people doing the translation for your clients.  If you want to have the right people, contact us at Language Solutions to know more about our passion and capabilities with healthcare translations.