Dear HIFA colleagues,
(with thanks to Isabelle Wachsmuth, WHO and lead moderator HIFA-French)
A Lancet Global Health editorial refers to the Comment by Roca et al, underlining the importance of this issue. Extracts below. Full text here: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(19)30176-7/fulltext
Sometimes it is important to go back to basics. For human interaction, one of the basics is language, the system of communication that, when applied at its best, allows us to understand each other, share, cooperate, and pull each other towards a better place. When on a collective journey towards a common objective such as the Sustainable Development Goals, with a rallying cry of “leaving no one behind” and a central aim of “reaching the furthest behind first”, this system of communication is fundamental to move beyond just the rhetorical: to be truly reached, the furthest one behind will need to understand what she is being told, and most likely, that exchange will have to be done in her own language. That principle should apply to all aspects of development, including global health...
Global health research in general should concern itself with language... A Comment published this week presents the reflections and ideas of a group of francophone researchers during a workshop at the Africa Health Agenda International Conference (AHAIC) in Kigali, Rwanda, last month... The solutions will require more consideration of the needs of different linguistic groups, the creation of support networks, and more linguistic collaboration in general...
Leaving no one behind will require more than glancing back from a position of linguistic power and hoping everyone follows. It will require everyone, journals included, to reach out to the other and find concrete solutions to this most basic dilemma.
It would be good to see this issue taken up also by The Lancet itself and other major journals.
Best wishes, Neil
Coordinator, HIFA Project on Multilingualism
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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG firstname.lastname@example.org
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