Pharmacies Helping Fans at the 2010 World Cup

To treat illness and injury among non-English speaking fans at the World Cup, one South African pharmacy chain is experimenting with a free, Web-based translation program.

To treat illness and injury among non-English speaking fans at the World Cup, one South African pharmacy chain is experimenting with a free, Web-based translation program.

As South African authorities readied themselves for the inevitable disorder wrought by soccer fans at the 2010 World Cup, the nation’s largest pharmacy chain, Clicks, prepared by instituting a makeshift translation system at its retail locations.

In a culturally diverse nation with 11 distinct official languages and at least as many unofficial tongues, such measures are necessary to ensure non-English speaking patients in town for the World Cup get the treatment they need.

“The biggest thing is to help our customers in their home language, and it is quite important that they understand how to use the drugs that they require,” Jan Roos, head of Clicks pharmacy operations, told South African newspaper the Times.

The system uses Yahoo’s Babel Fish, a popular, although imperfect online translation tool. Fans who are sick or injured can visit any Clicks pharmacy to access the free service from a computer, translate their symptoms, and receive counseling and medication from an English-speaking pharmacist.

With South Africa’s cold and flu season well underway and vuvuzelas threatening to cause irreversible hearing damage, health risks abound at this year’s World Cup. The translation system could help South African pharmacists cope with the influx of international tourists in need of quick, convenient medical care.

It may also provide a rough model for retail pharmacies in the United States, where language barriers remain an area of concern for practicing pharmacists.

For more coverage of health care issues at the 2010 World Cup, visit HCPLive’s “Global Health Care: Focus on South Africa and the World Cup.”

For other articles in this issue, see:

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