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When interpretation saves lives

METAdrasi facilitates the communication of healthcare services with refugees and migrants

A three-year-old boy from Iran is in a hospital in Athens. The doctors are ready to proceed with urgent surgery, in order to save his life. It is indispensable that his parents – who do not speak well either Greek or English – are informed and give their consent. Time is valuable. Proper communication between the child’s parents and the medical staff before, during and after the surgery, as well as within the period of recovery, is of vital importance…

Incidents like the afore-mentioned, when the presence of an interpreter is crucial, occur daily in hospitals throughout the country. METAdrasi, an organization with many years of experience in interpretation, with a team of 350 interpreters in 43 languages and dialects, focuses on covering this gap.

“During the last 7 years, we have been tackling the growing emergency needs for interpretation in hospitals all over Greece, mainly on a volunteer basis, through specially trained interpreters/intercultural mediators” mentions METAdrasi’s President Lora Pappa. As of March 2018, METAdrasi, with €1 million support from the European Union, until December 2018, ensures – among other activities related to interpretation, education and support of vulnerable groups –  the provision of interpretation, via daily presence, to several hospitals in the mainland. METAdrasi already collaborates with 5 hospitals: “P. & A. Kyriakou” and “Agia Sofia” children’s hospitals in Athens, as well as with “Papageorgiou”, “Georgios Gennimatas” and “AHEPA” General Hospitals in Thessaloniki. Two other hospitals are expected to follow soon: “Tzaneio” General Hospital of Piraeus and “Dromokaiteio” Psychiatric Hospital of Attica. Emergency needs in other hospitals in Attica (“Alexandra”, “Dafni”, “Evaggelismos”, “ΚΑΤ”, “Konstantopouleio», “Laiko”, “Sotiria” and “Agios Panteleimon”) are covered as well, through interpreters’ physical presence or through phone.

Within the first month of the activity’s implementation, more than 600 interpretation sessions in 19 hospitals have been realized, in Arabic and Farsi/Dari mainly, but also in other languages, such as Urdu/Punjabi, Sorani, Kurmantzi, Bengali, Lingala, Tigrinya, Turkish, Russian, Georgian, Moldovan, etc. “Every day, we receive multiple requests for interpretation. Very often, we are requested to facilitate the communication with people that are suffering from serious illnesses. It is of crucial importance that the doctor’s recommendations are interpreted into their own language with precision, before they take decisions regarding their health or start following a treatment”, adds Ms Pappa.

Mohamed S., METAdrasi’s interpreter in Arabic, recounts his personal experience: “It is a big responsibility, since the health condition and even the life of the patient depend on the proper communication with the doctor. Very often I get sad by the things I see and hear. Nevertheless, when I realize how helpful what I am doing is, I feel that it is worth it, despite the tiredness, the anxiety, the tension…”

For further information and requests, you may contact METAdrasi at +30 214 100 8700 or through mail at info@metadrasi.org.

About EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid

The European Union and its Member States are the world’s leading donor of humanitarian aid. Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity with people in need all around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises. The European Commission ensures rapid and effective delivery of EU relief assistance through its two main instruments: civil protection and humanitarian aid. Through its civil protection and humanitarian aid operations department (ECHO), the European Commission helps over 120 million victims of conflict and disasters every year. With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the Commission’s civil protection and humanitarian aid operations department provides assistance to the most vulnerable people on the basis of humanitarian needs. For more information, please visit the European Commission’s website.