World Health Organization

Spanish to English translation: study results and reports


For several years, I have been translating and editing content for the World Health Organization. In addition to its headquarters in Geneva, I also work with two of the WHO regional offices: the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO).

This work has included translating and editing a range of key publications, including research papers, briefing notes and reports on subjects such as sexual and reproductive health, neonatal care, HIV, cardiovascular disease and the Covid-19 pandemic.


Both of the texts shown were translated for the Pan American Health Organization. The first text looks at the results of a study on cervical cancer in women with HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean, with the study forming part of WHO’s overarching strategy towards the elimination of cervical cancer.

The second text is on a very different medical topic: nitrosamine impurities in angiotensin II receptor blockers. Essentially, nitrosamine impurities are human carcinogens that have been known to contaminate drugs used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure. The text provides a summary, written by the Pharmacovigilance Focal Points Network, of the current status of contamination-related incidents and the main actions taken by the United States FDA and the European Medicines Agency.


A key challenge with these two texts was adapting the language and structure to an English audience and their expectations. For example, the order of the two texts, while perfectly natural in Spanish, wouldn’t flow well for an English reader. Similarly, while Spanish has a tendency to be more general or imprecise, English prefers to be more specific and is less concerned about the repetition of terms, prioritising clarity first and foremost.


I adapted the text to better suit an English-speaking audience, reordering parts for improved flow, and adding extra context where needed. For instance, rather than a word for word translation of ‘this situation negatively affects’, I spelled out what the situation was, what it negatively affected, and how. 

I was also able to draw on my knowledge of oncology and HIV to inform my translation, in some cases providing the client with a few different translation options and rationales. 

It was and continues to be a privilege to work on texts that contribute to such important causes.

Claire has recently completed projects such as surgery notes, patient testimonials and a BUPA campaign for us, all to a very high standard.
Tongue Tied Ltd.