Google.org launches new "Health Speaks" initiative in Arabic, Hindi, and Swahili
Google.org is proud to introduce pilots for its new initiative called "Health Speaks" which aims to increase the amount of high-quality health information online in local languages. The initiative encourages community-based, crowd-sourced translations of quality health information with the assistance of Google Translator Toolkit. Pilot programs for Arabic, Hindi and Swahili begin today and are supported with a donation incentive awarding local charities with funds based on the number of words volunteers translate.
The Health Speaks team has chosen hundreds of good quality English language health articles from Wikipedia to be translated. Volunteers who are bilingual in English and either Arabic, Hindi or Swahili are encouraged to translate the articles with the assistance of Google Translator Toolkit, make locally relevant, review, and publish to the corresponding local language Wikipedia site.
For the first 60 days, Google.org will donate 3 cents (US) for each English word translated to the Children's Cancer Hospital Egypt 57357, the Public Health Foundation of India and the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) for the pilots in Arabic, Hindi and Swahili, respectively, up to $50,000 each. This means that community translators will help their friends and neighbors access quality health information in a local language, while also supporting a local non-profit organization working in health or health education.
"Language should not be the barrier that denies millions of people worldwide the opportunity to improve their health with valuable health information," said Jennifer Haroon, Manager of Health Initiatives at Google.org.
In most parts of the world, quality information that would help people improve their health is not available online in local languages. A 2004 Lancet article described the lack of access to health information as a "major barrier to knowledge-based healthcare in developing countries." The authors noted that "among currently available technologies, only the Internet has the potential to deliver universal access to up-to-date healthcare information."
Currently, however, professional translation of high quality health content is expensive and it can be difficult to find translators for some non-Western languages. Health Speaks hopes to learn from this pilot and determine if engaging volunteers in community-based, crowd-sourced translations is an effective means of getting quality health information translated.
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