Subhashish Panigrahi is a volunteer contributor for Wikipedia and has worked in the past as a community and program support consultant for Wikimedia Foundation.
Internet users from around the world often turn to Wikipedia to answer questions of all kinds. The information offered there includes medical subjects, especially important in parts of the world where access to medical professionals may be limited.
However, much of this information has not yet been vetted by the community as “good article” or “featured article,” and is available only in the most oft-spoken languages.
A group of experienced Wikipedia editors and medical professionals are trying to change that with the Medicine Translation Project, an effort to improve health care-related topics in English Wikipedia and translate them into other languages, including Hindi, Chinese, Persian, Tagalog, Indonesian and Macedonian.
Recently, the Wikimedia Foundation’s Individual Engagement Grant (IEG), a microgrant supporting work on Wikipedia-related activities, granted 10,000 US dollars to the Medicine Translation Project Community Organizing project, which aims to enhance communication and coordination among the team.
Rising Voices (RV): How did the project get started? What inspired it and how did you identify the needs it would fulfill?
CFCF: [...] The project itself started off in 2011 when Dr. James Heilman and a number of translators from Translators Without Borders: Enrique Cavalitto and Ildiko Santana teamed up in an effort to translate medical articles. Since then, the project has exploded into a larger translation forum with hundreds of translators translating articles into almost a hundred different languages. [...]
For Wikimedia projects with a large pool of editors, we have been taking help from editors to assess what is needed, and what should be translated. On smaller projects we have simply set the goal to get anything on World Health Organization (WHO)’s list of essential medicines, as well as anything about neglected tropical diseases, also from a list by the WHO. As for these articles the project is still in an early phase, but we want to cover basically anything that might be relevant to readers, from cancer to emergency medicine.
CFCF: [...] The problem is that there are so many layers of complications in the translation process. After an article has been written and been subject to review to ensure its quality, the article needs to be prepared and proofed for translation, after which translators need to be found. [...] Many of our translators are medical professionals and have in-depth knowledge in their native languages. On the top of it, they dedicate plenty of time on the content creation and translation. This helps to get good quality translations.