THE Balearic government will launch a pilot simultaneous teletranslation service in various health centres from Monday, and it will eventually be extended to all the health centres in the Balearics.
Details of the new service were announced yesterday by Josefina Santiago, the minister of social affairs, promotion and immigration, who said it was aimed at making communication easier between medical staff and immigrant patients. Immigrants now form 17 per cent of the Balearic population.
The system, which uses mobile phones, has already been introduced in other regions.
Initially it will be available in English, French, German, Romanian and Arabic, but this can be increased up to 32 languages.
From Monday it will be used in all the hospitals, the SUAP(emergency service) in Palma and the PACs (health centres) in Santa Ponsa, Son Servera and Trencadors.
To use the service, the doctor contacts Dualia, the company which provides it, and by means of double earphones connected to a mobile phone, doctor and patient can speak and receive simultaneous translations of their conversation
Once the programme is up and running the translators and socio-cultural mediators now employed to tackle language problems will be able to spend more time on social, family and community integration, Santiago said yesterday.
Manolo Camera, the director general of immigration, said that the chief purpose of the new scheme was to bring the health service closer to the immigrants who live in the islands.
It will also provide them with a better standard of living, for which they need a job and basic public services, he added.
The Balearic government also runs free language courses for immigrants who want to integrate and form part of Balearic society.