WiRED Salutes Dr. Ara Nahabedian

Directing the Translation of WiRED Modules into Armenian


Thanks to its dedicated translators, WiRED International now offers 19 health education modules in the Armenian language on topics of pressing concern in Armenia such as diabetes, dental hygiene and quitting tobacco. Dozens more modules are in the works or planned for the near future, many related to WiRED’s large community health worker training project.


Retired orthopedic surgeon Ara Nahabedian, M.D., supervises the translation process, and Mariam Sargsyan coordinates the work of several translators. The team addresses the specific health information needs of Armenians by using questionnaires for parents, doctors, students and teachers in their respective regions to help the crew come up with an updated list of subjects for subsequent translations.


WiRED-Armenia Director Sebouh Baghdoyan said, “The translation methods and efforts that were introduced and applied by Dr. Nahabedian and his assistants are considered as pioneering and highly commendable achievements.”


Dr. Nahabedian explains that there are many aspects to the specialized work of translating a WiRED module into Armenian that he must consider before the final version can be released:

After he receives the module translation (see sidebar on process steps), Dr. Nahabedian vets the science of the module, which he finds the most rewarding part of the procedure. Next, he looks carefully at the English. Often many words simply don’t exist in Armenian, so he checks that the translator did not change the meaning of the original language. In a recent translation, Dr. Nahabedian found that “glass thermometer” had been rendered as “cup thermometer” and “the bottom line” emerged as “line of the bottom” — of a person!


Dr. Nahabedian works hard to meet the challenge of translating English into Eastern Armenian. While it is the main language in Armenia today, instead of Western Armenian, it was developed during the Soviet Union era and under their control. Consequently, Eastern Armenian ended up with many Russian medical terms, which now need to be replaced by Armenian terms. The majority of the volunteer translators have neither in-depth medical knowledge nor close association with the English language and must rely on scientific text books and Google Translate; therefore, the resulting translation can fall short. Dr. Nahabedian’s work resolves all this.


WiRED Director Gary Selnow, Ph.D., said, “Dr. Ara Nahabedian wears many hats. He's an emeritus orthopedic surgeon, a woodworker, a traveler and a linguist whose attention to detail is something to behold. Translators working on WiRED modules are often challenged to find an Armenian term precisely matching the English word. Dr. Ara is relentless. His library shelves sag with dictionaries, which he uses liberally, and when he can’t find an exact match in the Eastern Armenian language, he contacts other medical experts for suggestions. At the end of Dr. Ara’s meticulous reviews, WiRED's modules are as much a lesson in the Eastern Armenian language as they are in community health. I applaud Dr. Ara and his team of translators who are making WiRED’s modules linguistically available to the Armenian people.”



The WiRED-Armenia Partnership


Poverty and the lack of reliable medical information have created serious healthcare concerns for the people of Armenia. WiRED started working there in 2012 to develop a strong and effective program to provide communities in this post-Soviet state with accurate, reliable and effective health education, administrative support and training. The early WiRED effort grew into the partnership of WiRED-Armenia, led by Director Sebouh Baghdoyan. In a recent strategy to advance community wellness, WiRED-Armenia has combined training programs with health screening measures for participants, which puts training into immediate action.


Volunteer translators in Armenia will continue to expand their work by adding new modules in Armenian to the WiRED health training e-library. This growing collection will enable the WiRED-Armenia staff to reach greater numbers of people with an even broader range of health topics.


In a new and considerably expanded program in Armenia, WiRED, in partnership with Caritas Armenia, will run one segment of a four-country test of its new community health worker program. This means translation work is needed on another 16 modules designed to train a cadre of health workers to assist medical professionals throughout the country.



Dr. Ara Nahabedian


Dr. Nahabedian, who was born in Aleppo, Syria, got his B.S. degrees in biology and chemistry and his M.S. degree in human morphology at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon (AUB). He entered medical school at AUB as the Lebanese civil war began, and, while a second year student, treated casualty victims. During his residency at AUB he continued to treat wounded and severely injured patients. In 1984, after completing his certification as a specialist in trauma and orthopedics, he headed to the United Kingdom for further training. He recently retired from his post as orthopedic surgeon at Leighton Hospital in Crewe-Cheshire, England.


Dr. Nahabedian began his humanitarian efforts in Armenia in 1988 after a major earthquake devastated the northern part of the country, killing nearly 45,000 people. Today he travels from England to Armenia to provide free surgeries for adults and medical consultation for children in need. He also collects and transports medical equipment to Armenian hospitals, which are desperate for supplies.


Dr. Nahabedian leads WiRED’s translation team as its Armenian translation director and medical consultant. He said, “I was taught during my medical training that patient education was at the top of the to-do list. Accordingly, the WIRED program of health education modules was a natural means for me to pass basic medical knowledge to the Armenian public.”

Translation Process Steps


  1. The WiRED-Armenia staff poll their health workers and other health trainers throughout the country to help decide which existing WiRED modules to make available for community training.
  2. The staff members then make a priority list for translation and send it to WiRED.
  3. WiRED provides Dr. Nahabedian, Ms. Sargsyan and other translators with the English text of the requested module in a special template that facilitates the translation process.
  4. Ms. Sargsyan organizes the work of the translators, reviews their drafts and sends the drafts to Dr. Nahabedian for final review.
  5. Dr. Nahabedian examines the Armenian texts for accuracy, giving special attention to the scientific terms and descriptions.
  6. Dr. Nahabedian sends WiRED the approved translation so that the WiRED information technology staff can create a first draft of the module in the interactive format.
  7. The formatted module goes back to Dr. Nahabedian for a final evaluation. After his approval, the WiRED staff completes the module and posts it online.