Comics to educate the public about COVID-19
From left: The Baffled Bunny and Curious Cat comics (Photo: Sonny Liew) and The COVID-19 Chronicles. (Photo: NUS Medicine)
A bunny and a cat discuss some their concerns pertaining to the COVID-19 virus with a Doctor Duck. Healthcare workers at the frontlines of the outbreak reveal the safety procedures that happen behind the scenes of the safety procedure.
These are just some examples of comics that members of the NUS community – including the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health (SSHSPH) and NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine – have published to help educate the public, in the midst of the evolving COVID-19 outbreak.
Baffled Bunny and Curious Cat
The series featuring “Baffled Bunny” and “Curious Cat” was created by award-winning graphic novelist Mr Sonny Liew, together with Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang, programme leader of SSHSPH’s Infectious Disease Programme.
“We completed the very well-received The Antibiotic Tales at the end of last year, and realised that a similar but more urgent problem was present with this COVID-19 epidemic – that of getting out information that was reliable (at least at the time of publishing), useful and could reach the comic-reading segment of the population,” said Assoc Prof Hsu. The Antibiotic Tales is a comic book that answers questions and dispels the myths and misconceptions about antibiotics.
“Simple yet effective forms of communications is a vital strategy in public health. This is especially important these days given the popularity of social media, where sensational fake and scaremongering news are more likely to be spread in a viral manner. The ‘infocomics’ by Sonny and Li Yang serve as a way to correct mistaken impressions, and they are also fun to read too!” commented Prof Teo Yik Ying, Dean of SSHSPH.
Both Mr Liew and Assoc Prof Hsu hope to continue with this series of comics to keep educating members of the public who might not have access to reliable and accurate information. Future topics may include the transmissibility and mortality of the virus, as well as a possible scenario for how the epidemic could turn out.
The COVID-19 Chronicles
NUS Medicine’s The COVID-19 Chronicles is another educational comic series. The series is framed as an “Ask an Expert”, featuring Dr Dale Fisher, a Professor at NUS Medicine and a Senior Consultant at the National University Hospital’s Division of Infectious Diseases.
“As a medical school, we are well connected to experts in infectious disease and we are in the position to help inform and educate the public, bust the myths and dispel doubts which are unfounded. A good way to do this is through comics,” said Dean of NUS Medicine Professor Chong Yap Seng.
“Combining the benefits of visualisation with powerful metaphors and character-driven narratives, comics have tremendous potential to make medical information more accessible and engaging for a wider audience…we are delighted this series of comics has gained traction.”
In addition to educating the public about the virus itself and dispel the myths surrounding it, the School also hopes to highlight topics of the day and relevant announcements, as well as feature frontline healthcare workers and their dedication in caring for COVID-19 patients, said Prof Chong, adding that the School is working with an illustrator to develop the series.
“In the fight against COVID-19, it is crucial that people have accurate information and do not panic or act out of fear. Through The COVID-19 Chronicles, we hope to increase awareness of the virus, share the proper measures people should take to protect themselves, and offer reassurance so that people can stay calm and carry on with their lives,” emphasised Prof Chong.