Photo credit: Youth.SG/Wan Munirah

Singaporean creates a Bengali translation website to help healthcare workers and affected migrant workers

The recent NUS medicine graduate wants to help healthcare workers communicate better with Bangladeshi patients.

Wan Munirah
Wan Munirah

Published: 17 April 2020, 12:00 AM

With the spike in COVID-19 cases coming from migrant workers’ dormitories across Singapore, our doctors and nurses have been working tirelessly over the past few days to test and screen workers for symptoms.

As the number of cases involving migrant workers continue to grow, one Singaporean youth wanted to do something about the “thick language barrier” between healthcare workers and affected migrant workers.

On Apr 14, 24-year-old medicine graduate Sudesna Roy Chowdhury decided to create a translation website, offering free resources to help healthcare workers communicate better with Bangladeshi patients. It also helps that Sudesna is well-versed in Bengali. She has been volunteering as a translator and helping doctors over the phone.

She also roped in her parents and her sister, who works as an emergency doctor, to translate medical terms and instructions into Bengali. Sudesna and her family worked overnight to develop the website and record audio translations before launching it at 11am the next day.


Sudesna’s website provides common conversational phrases and medical terms translated in Bengali.
Photo credit: Screenshots from Sudesna’s website


Sudesna shared her website with her doctor friends and her sister’s colleagues, and the site was gradually sent across multiple chat groups and Telegram doctors – including the Army Medical Services.

In her Facebook post, Sudesna encouraged healthcare workers to use the website and engage her friends who have volunteered to support with translation requests.

“I haven’t slept since the news broke 12 hours ago at midnight, that yesterday’s record-breaking 280 out of 386 cases came from the dormitories. I don’t know how many of them are Bengali, but it’s an issue that I’m afraid may quickly grow out of our hands.

“Even if resources are overwhelmed from the sheer number of cases, I’m hoping my friends and I can alleviate maybe some of the thick language barriers with this website supporting Bengali translations,” wrote Sudesna, a recent graduate from the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.

Sudesna’s website might be only two days old, but she already has plans to improve her repertoire of translations.

“It’s rushed out…so it has a lot of room for improvement. Please give me feedback, e.g. what other symptomology is relevant? Those on the ground please let me know,” wrote Sudesna.

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