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New Khmer comic book uses football to teach TB prevention

New Khmer comic book uses football to teach TB prevention


Photo by: Peter Olszewski

Vittorio Cammarota displays a copy of the TB-awareness comic book.

A KHMER version of a comic book starring a Portuguese football player and warning about the dangers of tuberculosis was launched last week in Siem Reap during the Angkor Photography Festival.

Geneva-based Vittorio Cammarota, the celebrities and special events officer with the Stop TB Partnership Secretariat administered by the World Health Organisation, told the Post the comic book took shape shortly after legendary Portuguese footballer Luis Figo signed on in January as the Stop TB ambassador.

"As soon as Figo came on board, we began to work on a comic book, provided a story board and launched an international contest to find the right artist," Cammarota said.

"A panel of judges then chose the winning artist, US-based Filipino Rod Espinosa."

The comic was globally launched in Lisbon in July.

A Khmer translation was commissioned through the WHO office in Phnom Penh and launched in Siem Reap on November 26.

The translation took four weeks, and 50,000 copies were printed in Phnom Penh for distribution throughout Cambodia.

The comic's storyline has two teams of footballers slugging it out - a team of international youths led by Luis Figa thrashes a team of TB germs.

"We are doing this because in high-income countries there is a perception that TB has disappeared. Not true," Cammarota said. "TB is still killing 5,000 people per day around the world. It's a problem in mainly Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe, but it is also remerging in the big cities of the Western countries.

"It is also the leading cause of death of people living with HIV.

"But it is a disease that is treatable in six months at a cost of US$20, and it is appalling that we still have 5,000 people dying worldwide every day."