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Open minds-Open borders.

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The latest CSO (2011) figures for Ireland show that there are currently 544,357 non-Irish nationals living in Ireland, representing 199 different nations and languages. Non governmental organisations have highlighted the language barriers that immigrants encounter that can result in their needs remaining unmet, affecting their mental health. The Health Service Executive of Ireland has responsibility for the health of all citizens. A basic requirement to ensure access to health services is to provide information in the language spoken by the people seeking services. Currently the HSE website has English and Irish as the only language option.

We would like to see the HSE website providing a translation service. This is essential for the individuals whose primary language is not English ( or Irish) so that they can easily access the literature and information available on the HSE website. The most spoken languages after English, are Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Polish, Lithuanian, Russian and Romanian. It is important that the HSE makes the information understandable to all that may need to access it. As a member of the EU, this is something that needs to be done, for the better quality of life and health, for all of it’s people. Especially at this time, when so much anti-immigrant rhetoric dominates our media and aspects of our political organisation and policies.

Our campaign wants to raise awareness of the difficulties that are faced by immigrants through language barriers, and how something so avoidable can affect access to health care by immigrants. The language problem can be easily and cost effectively solved by making free translations available on health service websites.

We the undersigned call on the Health Service Executive (HSE) to make available an automated translation service for their current website.

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