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Doc creates comic book to fight malaria

books Updated: Jul 06, 2010 17:30 IST
Sneha Mahale
Sneha Mahale
Hindustan Times
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Comic bookThis monsoon, the fight against malaria just got a helping hand. A Mumbai doctor has recently launched a comic book to help create awareness about the killer disease. Called A Tale Of Two Magic Potions, the book aims to connect with readers of all ages and educate them.

The comic book is a non-profit venture funded by Chillibreeze, a company with expertise in content development and designs services. "Ralph Budelman, our CEO, suggested we do something to educate kids about malaria, a preventable disease that kills hundreds of people in India each year. Our aim was to make an impact but not through traditional means," says Dr Nishi Viswanathan, an MBBS from KEM Hospital.

But Viswanathan was aware that while methods such as distributing mosquito nets help, in the long-term the solution lies in empowering tomorrow’s citizens with knowledge. “Education in the form of brochures can sometimes be boring and ineffective, hence the comic book,” says Viswanathan.

What’s the plot?
Budelman wanted a story that would connect with young readers, one that had superheroes, villains and some action. With this in mind, Viswanathan came up with the script for the book. The storyline revolves around two kids who don’t fit in well with the rest of the school. They are treated badly by their peers because they are different. They then meet a professor who gives them a magical potion that might end their woes.

“We selected the comic book medium chiefly for the potential entertainment value. The malaria content is present but not in your face,” says Viswanathan. Being a doctor helped Viswanathan write with more conviction. She adds, “Doctors have a good understanding of gaps in public awareness about health issues. You know what tips and issues to highlight while writing a story.” In the future, there are plans to work on comic books about issues such as nutrition, exercise and healthy eating. Chillibreeze is also interested in producing comic books about water conservation, solar energy and other topics that impact society.

To aid this effort, they will be setting up a website where authors and illustrators can collaborate to produce educative books. “People can assist by reading out the book to their own kids or helping us translate the book into other Indian languages,” says Viswanathan.