Google asks volunteers to translate online medical content

Google is asking volunteers to do its work for it and translate health-related articles in Hindi in a bid to boost the amount of online medical information in local languages.

According to UNESCO, 90 percent of the content on the internet exists in only 12 languages.

The search giant’s ’Health Speaks’ initiative aims to increase this – offering online health information in Hindi, Arabic and Swahili. It said that currently, professional translations of high quality health content is expensive and there are difficulties in finding translators for some non-western languages.

It wants bilingual volunteers who are fluent in English, Hindi, Arabic and Swahili to translate hundreds of English health articles from Wikipedia using its Google Translator Toolkit.

Under the company’s pilot scheme translators are also asked to review the articles and make them locally relevant before publishing them on the corresponding local language Wikipedia site.

As an incentive it has started a donation scheme, offering 3 cents (US) for each English word translated to the Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt, the Public Health Foundation of India and the African Medical and Research Foundation for the pilots in Arabic, Hindi and Swahili. However it has put a cap on how much it will give, saying these charities will receive up to $50,000 each.

“We will undoubtedly learn from these three pilots and iterate on our approach as we learn how best to engage volunteers and provide tools that allow for easy and accurate translation,” the company said in a statement. 

“We hope to one day expand the Health Speaks initiative to include high-quality health content from other publishers and other languages that suffer from a lack of health information online.”