Invention Makes Healthcare More Accessible to Immigrants

Dakshana Bascaramurty of the Globe and Mail reports on an interesting new trend in immigration healthcare: automatic translation. Currently, many doctors have difficulty communicating with patients who cannot describe their symptoms in English or French, or who cannot understand what a doctor is asking them. A new translation guide for doctors lets them ask a patient if they have symptoms by reading a phonetic spelling of the symptom in the patient’s language.

Immigrant access to healthcare

Getting an immigrant set up to receive healthcare is an ordeal on its own. It can be a complicated process and often requires the help of an expert. Even more challenging however, is making sure that healthcare, especially emergency healthcare, is accessible to immigrants. This new translation guide is a helpful start, but it does not address all the concerns that immigrants might have.

Culturally appropriate standards

Dr. Joel Ray, the researcher that made the translation guide, has also done research on the different standards that could be considered ethnocentric. For instance, caucasian babies have higher average weight than ethnic minorities, so assessing these minorities by the same standard could lead them to be mislabeled as underweight. Another example is that the risk for gestational diabetes is significantly different for people of different backgrounds.

Research being done in hospitals is a good start, but if Canada is going to provide accessible healthcare to immigrants of all different backgrounds, it will be important to scrutinize our healthcare system, which has historically dealt mostly with caucasian patients. Dr. Ray’s translation tool is a good start, but there is much more to be done.


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