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Communicating Across Cultures: Improving Translation to Improve Complex Emergency

Bolton, P.A.; Weiss, W.M.
Prehospital and Disaster Medicine

October 1, 2001

Translation is a vital activity in Complex Emergencies (CEs) in which the responders and the affected populations do not share the same language or culture. This particularly applies to CEs in developing countries in which a lack of local resources usually results in the importation of foreign aid workers. This paper describes many of the common issues surrounding translation that can affect CE response effectiveness, issues that frequently are not appreciated by aid workers, including clinicians. The authors describe how these issues can arise, their effects, and outline approaches to addressing them.