The language of medicine

Blog, Education & Training

Around 10% of Australians* have household or family members that have trouble getting information about their medicines because English is not their first language.

To tackle this information gap, community pharmacists working in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities around Australia are helping their customers this Be Medicinewise Week (19-25 August) to get to know the language of medicines. It can also be overwhelming having to manage multiple medicines, especially if English isn’t your first language. Check out this blog post for some great tips on how to manage multiple medicines.

There are already a number of proactive pharmacies around the country taking steps to remedy this problem. Cecilia Yoon, a Korean-speaking pharmacist in Strathfield, NSW says that in her pharmacy ‘we keep a chart of important common terms in different languages, such as “take once a day” and “take with meals”.

“We use the Translation and Interpreting Service (TIS) to help us explain information about medicines if we don’t speak the same language as a patient,” says Lemar Nawabi, intern pharmacist at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

NPS Medicine Wise is asking people to know all the medicines you take and why you take them, understand the instructions of how to take a medicine, check with your health professional before starting a new medicine, and ask if you have any questions.

If you have one takeaway from this post, the most important thing to bear in mind is to just ask. Ask questions when you are unsure. If you aren’t comfortable with asking your family, ask your doctor or get someone to ask a healthcare professional for you. It’s okay to not understand.

*YouGov Galaxy poll of 1037 adults conducted in July 2019 for NPS MedicineWise

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