Translating knowledge into practice – Dr Subas Chandra Rout on why #LanguageMatters in medicine

Dr. Subas Chandra Rout is translating knowledge to help even more people

How does an orthopedic surgeon find the time to volunteer to translate 315,000 words of medical information – and why?

This week I spoke to Dr Subas Chandra Rout from his home in the Indian state of Odia. Since 2012, Dr Subas has been translating medical content from Wikipedia medical articles from English to Odia so that the people of even remote villages can get basic information about health and diseases using just a smartphone. Odia is a regional language spoken in India by over 40 million people, and Dr Subas is intent on getting simple yet critical medical information to Odia speaking communities; from Zika prevention messages to ways to recognize diabetes, to the dangers of diarrhea.

Helping by translating knowledge

It all started when Dr Subas was asked to translate an article about malaria on Wikipedia. He did it because he knew that people were not generally very conversant on medical topics, although these topics affected them greatly. When he studied medicine, it was through English, and he learned thousands of new technical terms. As a consequence, he found himself then having to learn those thousands of terms in the regional language of his patients so that he could communicate his knowledge across the language divide. This was not always easy, as some languages are often not as well equipped with medical terms as is English. Despite the difficulties, the doctor persisted, and today he continues to break down the barriers to information by translating for Translators without Borders (TWB).

When I asked him how he manages to find time to complete so many medical translations, he said:

“There is a proverb – where there is will; there is a way. I have a will to feed the Odia speaking people with medical knowledge and I will do it until my end.  Time is no barrier.”

He sees Translators without Borders as “a medium that transcends the barrier of space and time” to provide people access to unlimited and accurate medical knowledge.

While talking about the impact he thinks his translations have had on the Odia speaking community, Dr Subas replied that he has witnessed an increase in the number of people who are now aware of the availability of medical articles in their own language. “My labor is starting to bring color,” he said, “Some of the topics have adorned the pages of local newspapers. I am sure that 40 million people will gradually be knowledgeable in basic medicine.”

Translation for Wikipedia

Do you want to participate by translating knowledge? Read more about translation for Wikipedia on the Wikipedia website.

Blog AuthorBy Caterina Marcellini, Translators without Borders Communications Officer

One thought on “Translating knowledge into practice – Dr Subas Chandra Rout on why #LanguageMatters in medicine”

  1. Translation has always played an important role in the medical industry. A single mistake can lead to lose the life of a person. It is always advised to read the content of medicines and medical documents carefully and if you are unable to read, get the text translated by professional translators.

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