Medical Manga – Japanese Patient Group

It’s thought to be around 50 years since the first examples of `Medical Manga’ – graphic novels or comics used for medical education in Japan. Today, it’s reassuring to see that Japanese patient groups continue to make these stories available for download. More widely, across the world some patient groups are closely involved in communicating about conditions through comics.

Patient group offers medical manga

Group Nexus is a Japanese patient group for people with lymphoma. From their site you can download a short manga story on a patient’s journey from symptoms to diagnosis and living with lymphoma. The story aids to give easy explanations of how lymphoma affects the body.

Japan Medical Graphic Association

The scale of medical manga is clear when you visit the charities and associations which focus on medical communication through manga and comics. 

The Japan Medical Graphic Association was set up three years ago, and is already raising the profile of medical manga worldwide, including the trend for it to be translated and adapted for other countries.  

They say:

“…it is often difficult to communicate among professionals, patients, their families…We propose the value of manga as a visual narrative medium that enables to bridge these existing gaps.” 

Pharma-sponsored comics

For decades, MediKidz has used the comic superhero format to make medicine more accessible to children and young people. Although some of the comics can be bought through bookshops, often there are three-way partnerships between patient groups, MediKidz and a pharma sponsor. When this happens, the patient group publicises the comic, and the sponsorship from pharma enables people to download the comic for free.

For example, in the US the Child Neurology Foundation publicises the MediKidz comic on playing sports with epilepsy, which is made available for free due to sponsorship by Eisai.

And finally…

Back in the 80s the innovative French TV series, Il était une fois… la vie (Once upon a time…life) turned body processes into 25 minute animated dramas. So, for example you see vivid battles between anti-bodies and `invading’ infections. As the world struggles with finding engaging ways to communicate health messages, perhaps we need to turn the clock back. Some patient groups used to include links to the series on YouTube to explain their conditions. Netflix have certainly seen the topicality, and the series is available again, including an episode on how vaccination works.

NEXT STEPS:

Download from the Japanese patient group, the manga book on lymphoma…

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Visit the Japan Medical Graphic Association at…

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See an example of an epilepsy organisation introducing MediKidz at…

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Keep up to date with medical communication through comics at…

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