Introduction by Croakey: Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns have been repeatedly raised about its disproportionate impact on some populations, including people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and about the critical need for tailored public health messages to reach diverse communities.
To ensure more equitable access to reliable, evidence-based information about long COVID, the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health (CEH) in Victoria has launched a website to support patients during their long COVID journeys, with resources available in over 20 languages.
Spase Veljanovski, Coordinator of Programs and Projects at CEH, reports below.
Spase Veljanovski writes:
The Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health (CEH) in Richmond, Victoria has created a website to help people with long COVID – Long COVID Help – specifically for people whose first language is not English.
It is a valuable resource bringing together the latest research and medical advice about long COVID, to support patients from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities during their long COVID journeys, helping them gain a better understanding of the condition and make informed decisions about their health.
It works as an online library of long COVID-related information including facts about the condition, as well as resources to aid doctor’s appointments such as communication tools and multilingual video and audio resources.
Culturally sensitive resources
We know that people from different cultures who are not proficient in English might have specific needs relating to obtaining information that they understand about long COVID.
That’s why the long COVID website provides information in different languages, making sure that language barriers don’t stop anyone from accessing essential healthcare information.
The website has brought together existing long COVID resources and developed new ones specifically for CALD communities in languages other than English.
Written, audio and audio-visual resources are available in over 20 languages. The website is searchable in English, Arabic, Simplified Chinese, and Vietnamese. Bilingual and bicultural workers tested the website to ensure the website was simple to navigate, the information easily found and easy to read.
While the project addressed the lack of information, as well as misinformation coming from various sources both locally and from overseas about long COVID for different communities, it was too small to interrogate cultural issues that may be involved in understanding information about long COVID.
There is a broad problem that data collection in Australia regarding the health of CALD populations is patchy. More specifically, for what little is known about long COVID, there is much less known for CALD communities, and this is extrapolated from COVID-19 data.
As highlighted in the Senate Inquiry for long COVID and repeated infections, further research is required to address key knowledge gaps about the prevalence and impact of long COVID in priority populations, including CALD communities.
The lack of knowledge about long COVID in certain population groups was also acknowledged in an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare review of long COVID in 2022.
As some population groups including people from CALD communities are at greater risk of contracting the SARS-CoV-2 virus, they may “be at an increased risk of developing long COVID, but this has not been confirmed with robust research”, according to the AIHW.
Part of a bigger project
The website is the third stage of a long COVID project funded by the Victorian Department of Health.
In 2021 CEH oversaw the translation of the Department of Health long COVID fact sheets and the development of original content in several languages in partnership with communities.
CEH invited people from CALD backgrounds to attend workshops to learn about long COVID. Some of these people participated in the development of long COVID information and its dissemination to their communities using their networks on various platforms.
The website links to resources developed in the workshops.
The website has been and will continue to be promoted to healthcare service providers as they are an avenue to direct people to this website, and they can download information on patients’ behalf.
The long COVID journey can be isolating, especially for people who experience cultural, language and structural barriers to accessing healthcare. The long COVID website aims to overcome some of these barriers.
About the author
Spase Veljanovski is the Coordinator of Programs and Projects at the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity & Health, a Program of North Richmond Community Health.
An experienced project worker and facilitator in organisational cultural competence, health literacy and language services, he has over 30 years’ experience improving migrant communities’ access to, and engagement with, health and human services.
See Croakey’s archive of articles on long COVID