New Vietnamese immigrants in Taiwan have often found it difficult to get medical problems dealt with because of the language barrier, but an interpreter program now is trying to cure such difficulties.

According to Changhua Christian Hospital in western Taiwan, it receives on average 2,000 foreign nationals per month seeking consultations, 36% of whom are new Vietnamese immigrants, followed by mainland Chinese (31%) and Indonesians (11%), The China Times reported.

In order to deliver more accurate diagnosis and treatment to patients, the hospital is participating in a program endorsed by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, under which onsite interpretation services are made available.

Vietnamese is the first target language in the trial program. With the help of an experienced Vietnamese interpreter, patient-physician communication has improved remarkably, the hospital says.

A 43-year-old immigrant woman told reporters that before the interpretation services were introduced, she could not describe her stomach problems effectively to the doctors as she only spoke a little Mandarin.

With prescriptions written in Chinese characters only, she also had to memorize the instructions for taking the medication.

Accompanied by the interpreter, she now is reassured, as she can understand the physicians.