Twenty-six medical interpreters this month graduated from a New Taipei City Government program designed to improve communication between healthcare professionals and migrant workers, a city labor official said on Thursday.
The interpreters, who started at the Bilingual Interpreter Training Program of Mental Health Counseling in September and graduated on Nov. 9, are to provide services to Indonesians, Vietnamese, Filipinos and Thais seeking psychological counseling, New Taipei City Labor Affairs Department staff member Tsai Chih-sung (蔡智松) said.
The goal is to improve communication between migrant workers and healthcare staff, Labor Affairs Department Commissioner Chen Jui-chia (陳瑞嘉) said.
“We also hope it will help close the cultural gap and make the interpreters more aware of the health problems of migrant workers,” he said.
Migrant workers in Taiwan are often victims of rape, sexual harassment and physical abuse, but find it difficult to communicate when they require psychological counseling, Serve the People Association deputy director Janice Tee (鄭珍真) said.
The group received reports of sexual harassment of at least 30 female migrant workers last year and one report of rape this year, she said.
“These victims are often traumatized after such an ordeal and need professional psychological care, which requires the services of medical interpreters,” Tee said. “While the interpretation might not be 100 percent accurate, the goal is to minimize misunderstandings.”
In addition to the first group of 20 who completed the program last year, the initiative now has 46 interpreters ready to serve migrant workers at hospitals and government agencies in Taipei, New Taipei City and Taoyuan, he said.
Currently, 716,125 workers from Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines are employed in Taiwan, primarily as factory workers, caregivers and domestic workers, according to Ministry of Labor statistics valid as of the end of last month.
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