The importance of communication in social emergencies | Stillman Translations
The importance of communication in social emergencies

As we all know, communication has a great value. When it comes to prevention from a global disease, this is no exception. But how and why does translation become so meaningful in contexts of global emergency?

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic. For this reason, several countries started quarantine implementation. The goal is to curtail the movement of people, thereby “flattening the curve” of infection.

Which is the role of translators when it comes to global health? Do we realize that words are powerful weapons that can help us overcome difficulties? When it comes to social emergencies, it is critical that messages can be crystal clear and achieve their destination, in order to execute specific actions.

Over the past days, at Stillman Translations, we received several requests from clients to provide weekend coverage during the COVID-19 emergency. Our clients come from the field of education, healthcare and government, and among the main languages that they need are French (France), Portuguese (Brazil), and Spanish.

According to the Area of Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief of the World Health Organization, information is the most valuable commodity during emergencies or disasters. It is what everyone needs to make decisions. It is an essential aspect in an organization’s ability to gain (or lose) visibility and credibility. Above all, it is necessary for rapid and effective assistance for those affected by a disaster. 

Again: information is key for decision-making. It has a powerful impact on how national and international resources are mobilized and it is also essential for after-action analysis and evaluation.

Which aspects of information are more important during a global disaster?

  • National authorities, international agencies and humanitarian assistance organizations need to provide transparent and well disseminated information, to generate awareness. 
  • The type of information provided will have an impact on the type of response that society makes. 
  • Communication and information become key elements in mobilizing resources, stimulating solidarity and support, increasing visibility, and strengthening the position of humanitarian stakeholders and of the health sector. 

As translators and interpreters we have the possibility of becoming the strategic link between authorities and organizations with the society. Effective communication in contexts of disasters means saving lives. We are all related, we need each other, we must do our best.