In our everyday lives, there’s a large demand for professional and human-driven pharmaceutical and medical translation services, as it’s a fundamental aspect for the success of any healthcare institute or medical business. However, have you ever asked yourself where and when the medical translation services originated from and why medical translation can be very challenging? Well! If you did google the evolution of medical translation services before or wanted to know the challenges met by medical translators while translating, this article is the best to answer your query.
The Importance of Medical Translation Today
Nowadays, medical translation plays a crucial role as it covers a number of domains, specialist areas, and health disciplines in the medical field. Some of these extensive areas are Otolaryngology, Microbiology, Genetics, Neurophysiology, Psychiatry, etc. In this broad field, progress is made every day as new pharmaceutical merchandise and medical devices are released. It is a legal term before you distribute any health monitoring system or chronic pain-relieving device to consider regulatory approval submissions.
Before the distribution phase of any project, regulation approval has to be granted by government bodies in the targeted cities. For example, a distributor of a German device in America and the UK will need his device to comply with the European Union regulations in Europe and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards.
That’s why regulatory approval submissions typically must be translated to the government bodies’ language along with all the documents and paperwork related to the submission, including, Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls (CMC), institutional forms, clinical trials, case reports, cover letters, and meeting briefing materials. Such medical information has to be available internationally because when it comes to health and medicine, language barriers shouldn’t ever be an issue.
Speaking further of human rights and equity, any health organization, national hospital, university medical office, or public health department that has patients and clients on their enrollments who don’t speak their language need to be able to provide instructions to these patients in a language they can comprehend. According to statistics, almost a quarter of the population in the United States does not speak English. Since healthcare is considered a human right in a huge part of the globe, providing medical translation and interpretation should be a human right as well and should be accessible to all individuals who may have difficulty in the communication of medical-related matters. Based on a previous social study, patients who receive proper communication in their native language are more likely to respond better to treatment. Thus, medical translation based on a symbiotic, mutually beneficial relationship between the medical institution and the client plays a vital part in helping health care professionals provide necessary treatment to their foreign patients who speak another language and ensure patient and client satisfaction.
Medical Translation Challenges
Commonly, medical interpreters, translators, and language service providers (LSP) meet several challenges in their field. By exploring the roles of translators/ interpreters, we find that medical translation is not only limited to language proficiency and the process of localization, but it is also concerned about other major factors as the user, user’s field, domain, terminology, and special medical language-based application. When it comes to healthcare and medical translation, communicative interactions and diversity management should be brought to the table. As stated by the Human Rights Council, every community must expel any cultural status inequalities or discrimination against ethnic minorities and migrants, that’s why medical translation and interpretation are crucial parts of enriching the diversity of every society. However, the medical translation field is highly complex and encompasses multiple challenges.
To clarify, Terminology accuracy is one of the most critical elements of medical translation quality. Medical terminology management is a necessity for translators and interpreters to decode complex data and offer precise and superb translations to avoid any incorrect diagnosis or put patient lives at risk.
Another challenge a medical translator and interpreter faces is medical translation specialization. Beyond the obscure vocabulary and technicalities, the medical translation field is diversified. It is an umbrella term for a notably vast spectrum of study areas, branches, and specializations. Hence, people shouldn’t expect an interpreter specialized in the cardiology branch to be interpreting a dental conference.
Besides the above-mentioned challenges, there are many forms of medical texts and documents that hold many abbreviations, acronyms, and eponyms. Medical documents content exhibit medical bulletin, training certificates, regulatory audit, clinical trials and protocols, investigator brochures, SAE and SOP Procedures, ICF translations, etc…
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Early History of Medical Translation
Since the development of all human beings, medical translation and history have been closely connected and could not be considered separately from each other. It all started thousand years ago as we discovered the Edwin Smith papyrus from the 17th century BC and the Ebers papyrus from the 16th century BC. Both remarkable papyruses held significant references to skin diseases and cosmetic issues in the dermatology field. As presented in these references, it is believed that Ancient Egyptians recognized various common skin ailments including Eczema, Itches, Scabies, Skin Irritation, and Ulcers. Ancient Egyptians are also thought to have influenced Greek and Mesopotamian medicine which are attributed to the Greek physician Hippocrates of Kos, the Roman scholar and author De Re Medicina Celsus, the Greek pharmacologist and author of De Materia Medica Dioscorides, and the Greek physician and philosopher Galen of Pergamon.
For elaboration, the Corpus Hippocraticum, which is a body of texts that inspired several studies including Galen work and was translated into other languages and cultures in succeeding centuries, is believed to be of an Egyptian origin. In the Corpus Hippocraticum, Hippocrates classified skin disorders as exanthema and idiopathic, and he believed that these skin disorders resulted from an imbalance of the four humors, including blood, black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm. In addition to the Corpus Hippocraticum, Western archaeologists have also found a dictionary dating back to 1300 BCE in Sumerian, Ugaritic, Akkadian and Hurrian. That dictionary incorporated medical knowledge and practices in a primary pre-scientific form and was written in a cuneiform writing system on clay tablets in Ancient Mesopotamia.
To be more accurate, the historical medical translation movements officially developed in the early middle ages. At that time, the practice of Greek knowledge and central medical studies declined with the fall of the Roman empire in Europe. Fortunately, with the efforts of the bilingual Graeco-Roman pioneers, some of the Hippocratic and Galenic texts were saved and translated into the Latin language in Italy. The translations of the two physicians’ texts were used as effective and practical guidance for medical treatment and scientific provision. The value of these texts stated the beginning of the ceremonious and public reign of Latin as the main language of teaching and writing in medical education.
On the other side, for almost two centuries in the early Middle Ages, Graeco-Arabic scholars and physicians helped in documenting and translating ancient Greek medical texts into Syriac and Arabic with both a scientific and a transcultural approach. These greek medical texts included all the health sciences; medicine and surgery, pharmacology, military medicine, and veterinary science that were available in the Eastern Byzantine Empire and the Near East. Along with that, comprehensive commentaries and qualitative analysis were provided by the Arabic scholars and physicians in the Middle East.
To explain more, with the efforts and the assistance of the Abbasid caliphate and the echelons of the Arabic society in Baghdad, a number of physicians as Hunayn ibn Ishaq, Al-Razi, and Avicenna not only studied and summarized Hippocratic and Galenic texts but also made significant studies and contributions to medical science that included complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Moreover, Sultan Saladin of Egypt and Syria had several physicians and practitioners during his reign as Ibn Jami’, who helped in the transmission of Greek medicine and its different approaches to health care across the Arab world.
Medical Translation in the Modern Age
In the early modern period of modern history, medical translation, rendering, and interpreting have become important niches for professional translators and interpreters. During World War I and World War II, the need for health care interpreting and translation services increased due to the sharp influx of asylum seekers and refugees from war zones and countries of political crisis. Both wars changed the world and led to the reshaping and restructuring of the political order in Europe, America, and the Middle East with high casualty rates and death tolls. However, after signing and ratifying Geneva convention protocols that increased protections for civilians, military workers, and journalists during international armed conflicts, there were prompt advances in the medical field making crucial progress in medical imaging, surgical techniques, and treatment programmes. National and international hospitals, health care systems, med schools, and pharmaceutical companies became in dire need of certified medical translation services and healthcare localization solutions provided by highly knowledgeable, subject-matter and language professionals due to revolutionized medical practices and health rapid advances.
Medical technology is still evolving around the globe and the need for accurate and concise medical translation is paramount. Make sure to keep yourself updated on the latest technology and advances to be able to continue adding value to the industry. Request a free quote from the translation gate and let us handle the whole process!