1. Summary of your research (300 words max)
As a medical anthropologist, I have spent the last few years conducting qualitative research on tuberculosis care and prevention. As part of my postdoctoral research at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, I identified a big need for an educational resource to help people in low- and middle-income countries, where this disease is prevalent, to learn about tuberculosis disease. I decided to write a children's book about the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis. Sydney-based Indonesian artist Amelia Darmawan drew beautiful images for this book, which is now available online for free through Enculture Press. At the beginning of 2015, I had the opportunity to pilot the Vietnamese version of this book with a hundred school children in Ca Mau, the southernmost province of Vietnam. On a quiz with ten comprehension questions about the content of the book, no students got more than 2 questions wrong. In fact, fifty percent of students got every answer correct. This was an excellent indication that this book is an effective tool to learn about tuberculosis. Motivated by this success, I crowdfunded the first stage of development and raised just over $6,000 to print copies of the book to be distributed in Vietnam next year. Together with colleagues from the Global Young Academy and around the world, I have worked to translate the book into twenty languages including Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Indonesian, Italian, Javanese, Khmer, Malaysian, Mauritian Creole, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Swahili, Togalog, Turkish, and Vietnamese, with more translations to come. My vision is to translate and distribute this educational book in countries with a high burden of tuberculosis. The ultimate aim is to destigmatise tuberculosis disease by teaching children and their families about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of this curable infection.
2. Any additional details you would like the public to know
Tuberculosis outranks HIV/AIDS as the world's biggest infectious killer. The WHO estimates that in 2014, 9.6 million people fell ill with tuberculosis and 1.5 million died from the disease. One million of those tuberculosis cases were children, of whom an estimated 140,000 died.
Tuberculosis should not claiming lives at all. Antibiotics to cure the disease have been available for over fifty years. Technology to diagnose the disease has been consistently improving. Clearly the problem is not simply medical, but also social and cultural. My research addresses the problem of tuberculosis at the cultural level. By trying to develop social interventions, such as a public health education tool like my children's book, I hope to improve knowledge, attitudes and practices towards tuberculosis among key populations. The goal is to reduce the global burden of tuberculosis.
My research on tuberculosis has been published in various peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, Australasian Psychiatry, International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Journal of Biosocial Science, and soon in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. I have also written popular science pieces about tuberculosis and drug resistance for Croakey and Culture Matters, and spoken about tuberculosis on ABC radio and 2SER. Enculture Press has published my children's book about tuberculosis for free in:
- Arabic (ISBN: 978-1-925082-27-2),
- Chinese (ISBN: 978-1-925082-35-7),
- English (ISBN: 978-1-925082-16-6),
- French (ISBN: 978-1-925082-30-2),
- German (ISBN: 978-1-925082-33-3),
- Greek (ISBN: 978-1-925082-26-5),
- Indonesian (ISBN: 978-1-925082-24-1),
- Italian (ISBN: 978-1-925082-34-0),
- Javanese (ISBN: 978-1-925082-22-7),
- Khmer (IBSN: 978-1-925082-25-8),
- Malaysian (ISBN: 978-1-925082-21-0),
- Mauritian Creole (ISBN: 978-1-925082-28-9),
- Polish (coming soon),
- Portuguese (ISBN: 978-1-925082-19-7),
- Romanian (ISBN: 978-1-925082-31-9),
- Russian (ISBN: 978-1-925082-20-3),
- Swahili (ISBN: 978-1-925082-32-6),
- Togalog (ISBN: 978-1-925082-18-0),
- Turkish (IBSN: 978-1-925082-23-4),
- Vietnamese (ISBN: 978-1-925082-17-3).