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Home : About NDDIC : NDDIC News : Fall 2008

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National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC)

Digestive Diseases News
Fall 2008

MedlinePlus Health Information Now Available in Multiple Languages

MedlinePlus, a consumer health portal from the National Library of Medicine (NLM), part of the National Institutes of Health, now features reliable health information in many languages. The collection of health resources contains more than 2,500 links to information in 44 languages covering nearly 250 health topics.

Users can navigate the new collection of health information either by language or topic. The page listing the 44 languages covered in the collection is located at The most commonly spoken languages included on the site are Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Links to foreign-language information can also be found on individual topic pages, such as the “Digestive Diseases” topic page at MedlinePlus has information about “Digestive Diseases” in all of the languages listed in the right-hand column on that page.

Limited English Proficiency

According to a 2006 survey by the Health Research and Educational Trust of more than 850 hospitals, 80 percent of them treat patients with limited English proficiency. But despite nationwide demand, free, online consumer health information in multiple languages has not been readily available.

To be included on the MedlinePlus website, the multiple-language information must be produced by the Federal Government or a U.S.-based organization such as a hospital or medical association. The information also must be current, authoritative, and appropriate for a U.S. consumer audience.

“As the population of patients and consumers with limited English proficiency increases, more health care providers, patients, and family members will need information in languages from Hindi to Tagalog,” said Paula Kitendaugh, head of the health information products unit in the NLM’s public services division. “By creating a repository of authoritative, free, online information, we hope MedlinePlus will help meet that need.”


NIH Publication No. 09–4552
December 2008


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