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Good healthy advice in 7 languages (plus English)

08 October 2008

Pharmacists give good healthy advice in 7 languages (plus English)

It has just become easier for patients who have difficulty with the English language to get good healthy advice from their community pharmacy, with the launch of the Pharmacy Translation Kit in Wellington today.

The Pharmacy Translation Kit, developed by the Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand, contains seventy six words and phrases translated into Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Maori, Samoan and Tongan. It includes basic greetings, questions about medical history, information about prescriptions, instructions for using medicines and explanations about what medicines are for.

The Pharmacy Translation Kit will assist pharmacists to communicate essential information to their patients such as 'Do not stop taking this medicine, even if you feel better' by indicating the correct phrase in the correct language. Each language is colour coded, has the English beside it and phrases are divided into different categories to make them easy to find. Just as important, the Pharmacy Translation Kit will help patients communicate more effectively with their pharmacist.

Pharmacy Guild President and owner of two South Auckland pharmacies Ian Johnson, believes the Pharmacy Translation Kit will make a real difference in helping his patients understand how to take their prescribed medication correctly. In light of WHO estimates that '50 percent of patients with chronic conditions do not fully adhere to prescribed therapy' this is a major issue in primary healthcare.

"The Pharmacy Translation Kit will be a huge help in making sure that patients know how and when to take their medicines. This is good healthy advice in 8 languages." says Mr Johnson.

He adds that the development of the Kit highlights the value of good communication between pharmacist and patient in improving health outcomes.

"Simple, consistent messages make a huge difference to patients' health. The Pharmacy Translation Kit will help pharmacists break down the language barriers and ensure they get their message across."

The Pharmacy Translation Kit will initially be in approximately 100 Guild pharmacies, but is available to all community pharmacies.



Reference to Chinese: Advice received by the Guild is that written Chinese is understood by all speakers of Chinese languages - for example for speakers of Cantonese or Mandarin, their written language is the same.

Background: The Pharmacy Translation Kit evolved from a research project sponsored by the Guild and carried out by the University of Otago, School of Pharmacy. Following feedback from community pharmacists, the Guild expanded the basic list of phrases and questions, and added another language to provide comprehensive coverage of the questions, instructions and warnings often used in pharmacist/patient communication.

The following are a selection of phrases from the Pharmacy Translation

· Do you take any other medicines?
· Are you pregnant or breast-feeding?
· Take one hour before food or two hours after.
· Take until finished.
· Do not drink alcohol while taking this medicine.
· Do not give this medicine to children.
· These are antibiotics for treating infection.
· Go to the doctor immediately.

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