Moroccan students create a Tamazight medical guide to bridge a language gap

Youssef Khabbal, a professor at the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy who oversaw the students’ work on the guide, said the initiative was driven by self-motivation, based on medical workers’ experiences of communication difficulties. with Amazigh patients.

“I worked in Tinghir, a Tamazight-speaking province in southeastern Morocco,” Khabbal told Al-Fanar Media. “I called on a nurse to help me communicate with the patients. So we decided to find solutions to this problem.

Overcoming language barriers is a problem for healthcare workers in many parts of the world. Khabbal pointed to similar efforts in Canada to prepare medical guides that include local languages ​​and dialects. He also cited experiences in Germany, where manuals in different languages ​​have been developed to communicate with refugees.

Camélia Reinhart, a fifth-year student at the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy in Agadir and a member of the team preparing the Tamazight guide, said the students also encountered difficulties in communicating with patients.

“We were convinced of the feasibility of this initiative because we experienced this communication problem first hand as students, during clinical training at the Center Hospitalier Régional Hassan 2 in Agadir,” she said. declared.

The center is frequented by Tamazight-speaking patients from different parts of the Souss-Massa-Draa region around Agadir, and from southern Morocco.

“We used to ask our colleagues who speak Tamazight for help,” Reinhart said. “It’s a shame, because we have to listen to patients and really understand their complaints and their needs. Otherwise, we will not be able to provide them with the necessary medical assistance.

The birth of the idea

Reinhart, whose mother is of Amazigh origin, thought of a medical guide in 2018. She and a few colleagues asked for help from Professor Khabbal, in cooperation with the Association of Medical Students of Agadir.

It took an entire year of hard work to complete the guide, Reinhart said. “We searched for appropriate translations, not just the literal translation,” she said. “We used older Tamazight speakers to do this. I also asked my mother to look up words.

Extended editions

Khabbal said the students developed the idea through their association, starting with an internal manual for caring for patients. This extended to on-campus workshops to teach Tamazight to non-native speakers for medical communication. Dozens of students have benefited from these workshops, he said.

Hamza Amzel, a fourth-year medical student and president of the Medical Students’ Association, said the guide had become a companion for the students to help them with their practical training.

About Wesley V. Finley

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