Volume 6, Issue 2, June 2020, Page: 34-39
Indigenous Languages: A Challenge or an Opportunity in the Achievement of Universal Healthcare in Kenya
Emily Ayieta Ondondo, Department of Linguistics, Languages and Literature, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology (JOOUST), Bondo, Kenya
Received: May 13, 2020;       Accepted: Jun. 15, 2020;       Published: Jun. 28, 2020
DOI: 10.11648/j.cls.20200602.14      View  10      Downloads  4
One of the development agenda for Kenya is the achievement of universal healthcare. An assessment of the level at which this has been implemented reveals that Kenya is facing challenges in implementing this endeavor. Health professionals communicate with patients to build trust for more effective practice. Failure to communicate strains the relationship, leading to ineffective practice. One of the main obstacles that may lead to failure in communication is differences in language and culture between the doctor and the patient. Majority of the people that universal healthcare targets in Kenya speak indigenous languages as opposed to English and Kiswahili, languages that the healthcare providers speak. Effective communication occurs through a language that the communicants understand best. Health care providers, in Kenya, understand English and Kiswahili best, while their patients understand Kenyan indigenous languages best. So, what language should be used in universal healthcare endeavors? Should it be English, Kiswahili or Indigenous languages? This shows that one of the main challenges facing the implementation of effective healthcare system and intervention in Kenya could be the language of discussions. Using a descriptive design, this paper takes a critical look at the role of Kenya’s indigenous languages in achieving universal healthcare goals. It argues that the achievement of effective and sustainable universal healthcare in Kenya can only become possible through the use of indigenous languages as languages of discussions. And that the use of indigenous languages in universal healthcare endeavors in Kenya should not be seen as a challenge but as an opportunity.
Effective Communication, Indigenous Languages, Universal Healthcare, Challenge, Opportunity
To cite this article
Emily Ayieta Ondondo, Indigenous Languages: A Challenge or an Opportunity in the Achievement of Universal Healthcare in Kenya, Communication and Linguistics Studies. Vol. 6, No. 2, 2020, pp. 34-39. doi: 10.11648/j.cls.20200602.14
Copyright © 2020 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Altbach, P. G. (1999). The Dilemma of Publishing in African Languages: A Comparative Perspective. In P. G. Altbach & D. Teferra (Eds.). Publishing in African Languages: Challenges and Prospects. Bellagio Studies in Publishing 10, 1-10. Chestnut Hill, MA: Bellagio Publishing Network.
Kembo-Sure. (1991). Language Functions and Language Attitudes in Kenya. English World Wide Language and Communication. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Ogechi, N. (2001). Publishing in Kiswahili and Indigenous Languages for Enhanced Adult Literacy in Kenya. Afrikanistische Arbeitspapiere 68 (2001)-Swahili Forum 3, 185 199.
Chomsky, N. (1986). Knowledge of Language. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Crystal, D. (2010). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge.
Fasold, R. (1992). The Sociolinguistics of Society. Oxford: Blackwell.
Fromkin, V. R., & Hyams, N. (2010). An Introduction to Language. Boston: Thomson-Henle.
Lyons, J. (1992). Language and Linguistics: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University. Wardhaugh, R. (1992). An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. Oxford: Blackwell.
Wardhaugh, R. (1992). An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. Oxford: Blackwell.
Yule, G. (2000). The Study of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Nielsen-Bohlman, L, Panzer, A. M., & Kindig, D. A. (2004). Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion. National Academies Press.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2010). National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy. Washington, (DC).
Wekundah, J. M. (2012). Why Protect Traditional Knowledge, Nairobi Kenya: The African.
Hyden, L-C., & Mishler, E. (1999). Language and Medicine. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 19, 174-192.
Parsons, T. (1952). The Social System. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Lawton, J. (2003). Lay experiences of health and illness. Sociology of Health and Illness 25, 23-40.
Cohen, A. L., Rivara, F, Marcuse, E. K., McPhillips, H., & Davis, R. (2005): Are Language Barriers Associated with Serious Medical Events in Hospitalized Pediatric Patients? Pediatrics 116, 575-579.
Flores, G., Abreau, M., Olivar, M., & Kastner, B. (1998). Access Barriers to Health Care for Latino Children. Arch Pediatr Adolesce Med 152, 119-125.
Manson, A. (1988). Language Concordance as a Determinant of Patient Compliance and Emergency Room Visits in Patients with Asthma. Med Care 26, 1119-1128.
Partida, Y. (2012). Language and Health Care. Diabetes Spectrum 25 (1), 245-260.
Shapiro, J., & Saltzer, E. (1981). Cross-Cultural Aspects of Physician-Patient Communication Patterns. Urban Health 10, 10-15.
Woloshin, S., Schwartz, L. M., Katz, S. J., & Welch, H. G. (1997). Is language a Barrier to the Use of Preventive Services? J Gen Intern Med 12, 472-477.
Aitchison, J. (1992). Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Aronoff, M. & Reese-Miller, J. (2006). The Handbook of Linguistics. Malden MA: Blackwell.
Clark, A. (2006). Language, Embodiment, and the Cognitive Niche. Trends Cogn Sci 10, 370-374.
Partida, Y. (2011) “The Challenge of Health Insurance Language.” Presentation Delivered at an Institute of Medicine Roundtable on Health Literacy in Washington, D. C., 19 July 2011.
Akmajian, A., Demers, R., Farmer, A., & Harnish, R. (2010). Linguistics: An Introduction to Language and Communication. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
Lunenburg, F. C. (2010). Communication: The Process, Barriers, And Improving Effectiveness. Schooling, 1 (1), 1-11.
Stanton, N. (2009). Mastering Communication. Palgrave: Macmillan. Technology Policy Studies Network. University Press.
Divi, C., Koss, R. G., Schmaltz, S. P., & Loeb, J. M. (2007). Language Proficiency and Adverse Events in U.S. Hospitals: A Pilot Study. International Journal of Quality Health Care 19, 60-67.
Schyve, P. M. (2007). Language Differences as a Barrier to Quality and Safety in Health Care: The Joint Commission Perspective. J Gen Intern Med 22 (Suppl 2), 360-1.
Wilson-Stronks, A., & Galvez, E. (2007). Hospitals, Language, and Culture: A Snapshot of the Nation. Oakbrook Terrace, IL: The Joint Commission.
McCullagh, M., Wright, R. (2010). Good Practice. Communication Skills in English for the Medical Practitioner. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Nápoles, A., Santoyo-Olsson, J., Karliner, L., Gregorich, S. E., Pérez-Stable, E. J. (2015). Inaccurate language interpretation and its clinical significance in the medical encounters of Spanish-speaking Latinos. Med Care, 53: 940-947.
Lion, K. C., Ebel, B. E., Rafton, S., Zhou, C., Hencz, P., Mangione-Smith, R. (2015). Evaluation of a quality improvement intervention to increase use of telephonic interpretation. Pediactrics, 135: 709-716.
Squires, A. & Jacobs, E. A. (2016) Language and communication issues impact healthcare providers around the world. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 54: 5-6
Facts about patient-centered communications. Oakbrook Terrace, IL: The Joint Commission; October 2017.
Green, A. R. (2017). Language based inequalities in health care: who is the “poor Historian”? AMA J. Ethics, 19 (3): 262-271.
Karliner, L. S. (2018). When Patients and Providers Speak Different Languages. PSNET.
Browse journals by subject