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In July 2001, I wrote an article entitled Al-Tanfeh Medical Center, related to the “Center for Arabization of Medical Sciences,” which emanates from the Council of Health Ministers of 1980.
In 2001, I wrote an article titled, center of personal benefits pointing to the Arab Center for Authorship and Translation of Health Sciences (ACMILS) located in Kuwait, established in 1980 and emergent from the Council of Arab Health Ministers.
The aim of ACMILS was to publish the references of medical sciences in Arabic and issue a regular magazine with almost no readers. I mentioned in that article that translation of medicine is not important at all considering the fact that medicine is the richest, most developing and most progressing science.
Moreover, the physician who does not know English will fail to come up with the up-to-date development of medicine. Later on, I wrote another article on the same issue after I had received a reply from one of the beneficiaries of ACMILS who, in a humble way, accused me of rejecting translation in general.
His accusation was totally wrong as large part of sciences is already translated into Arabic and no one objected.
The issue is that translating health sciences is another different story. In 2005, I wrote a third article on the issue where I handled the topic addressed earlier by my colleague Dr Naji Al Zaid about a new component of blood found by a Canadian doctor who named it (chylomicron).
Dr Al Zaid said he did not know the name of that substance in Arabic. For my part, I call upon ACMILS to find an Arabic name for it. I wrote a fourth article in February 2009 on the scandal of the issuance of a dictionary prepared by large number of beneficiary translators which included tens of thousands of medical terms translated from English into Arabic titled ‘Illustrated Dictionary for Medical and Health Sciences’ under the supervision of late Dr Abdulrahman Al Awadi and his friend who has nothing to do with medicine. A Kuwaiti doctor described this as a treasure of useless information.
Surfing the dictionary, we see English words have been translated into their matching words in Arabic like ability, tube, Abdullatif. Other words like abrin were translated into the same pronunciation in Arabic letters. A term like abdomen was translated as belly, with illustration defining it by the area located between the chest and pelvic. Is there any doctor who needs to know where the abdomen is located?
The editors of the dictionary chose unfamiliar Arabic words to describe English terms. The problem is that the Arabic words they used need to be explained to the native Arabic speakers.
The reason behind writing about that issue after 43 years of the establishment of ACMILS is the story published by Al Rai daily showing the intention of some people to revive the center again after it faded away by the death of the beneficiaries. If the information is true, it is part of triviality and waste of time. Translating sciences to our national language is needed but translating medical and health sciences is wasting of time, money and efforts.
I wondered when some of the supporters of reviving ACMILS said translating health and medical sciences into Arabic represents the future of research and medicine in the Arab world.
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By Ahmad alsarraf