Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Medikidz: Introduction & interview with Dr Kate Hersov, Director & Co-Founder

I'm really excited to be introducing these to you!  Medikidz are comics that give informative factual content, which are aimed at children and cover a variety of diseases and medical conditions.  We'll be reviewing a comic a week, starting this Thursday, and continuing every Thursday after that.

Please welcome Dr Kate Hersov, Director & Co-Founder of Medikidz, who is here to explain more about Medikidz.

Where did the concept of Medikidz come from?
Medikidz was founded by myself and Dr Kim Chilman-Blair following a frustrating time in paediatric medicine. During our time as doctors, we were unable to provide young patients with resources to help educate them about their new diagnoses or medicines - in their language, at their level. There exists worldwide, an enormous lack of useful material for young people around medicine and health - most of what exists targets parents only! This realisation was the catalyst which lead us to create Medikidz.

Could you introduce us to the Medikidz and the concepts around them please.
The ‘Medikidz’ are a group of five superheroes who live on Mediland – a planet shaped like the human body. Each of them specialise in explaining a different body organ. Axon knows all about the brain (and has a pet robot, Abacus!), Chi is the lung specialist, Pump is the blood expert, Skinderella knows all about skin and bone and Gastro is the guru on the tum, bum and everything in between!

How long has Medikidz been in action?
Medikidz was founded in New Zealand in 2006 and launched in the UK in September 2009 with the endorsement of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Since launch we have now distributed over 1,000,000 comic books globally, I think this volume in such a short space of time is due to the fact the medical community, and indeed young people themselves, have not seen a resource like Medikidz before!

What are the topics covered and the target age range for Medikidz?
We currently have 30 titles in our Medikidz series, ranging from Epilepsy, Scoliosis, Leukaemia to Type 1 diabetes, Food allergy and ADHD. We have also produced titles relating to adult conditions, so that a parent/loved one, when faced with a diagnosis, has somewhere to turn to help them explain it to their children, such as our title 'What’s Up With Mum? Medikidz Explain Breast Cancer'.

Are there specific places that Medikidz can be found?
Medikidz can be found in hospitals, libraries and bookshops worlds wide including from Australia/New Zealand (via HarperCollins) to America (via Rosen Publishing, American Cancer Society, National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses), from Trinidad and Caribbean (Mohammed's Bookstore) to Greece (PublicWorld)! Our books can also be purchased worldwide from the Medikidz online bookshop.

How long does each Medikidz comic take to publish? - With the detailed medical knowledge required to make them accurate, they look very professional whilst being bright and interesting for children...How big is the team of experts which help produce Medikidz?
From initial script formation to print can take up to 5 months. Numerous individuals are involved in the process of producing each title including our skilled team of medical writers, editors and of course the comic illustrators. Each title is also peer reviewed by 2 leading consultant specialists for the particular condition, as well as collaboration from affected young people, their families and the relevant disease foundations.

Do you have future project plans?
Our next title relating to adult conditions will be ‘What’s Up With Grandpa? Medikidz Explain Alzheimer’s Disease’ and then we’d like to do Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis and Schizophrenia.  We keep on getting approached all the time to write on new conditions – in fact we now have a list of 300 to do!   Medikidz also have produced pamphlets and brochures explaining paediatrically-licensed medicines (increased understanding can lead to improved adherence!) and hospitals investigations, such as ‘Medikidz Explain MRI Scan or ‘Medikidz Explain Endoscopy’.
Next year we will relaunch Medikidz.com - an online 'Medipaedia' with entries about conditions, investigations and medicines (like a WebMD for kids),with an integrated fully-moderated social network for children globally to connect around illness and disease (like a facebook for sick kids!).

Medikidz has also been on news channels worldwide.  Here's just one newsflash about Medikidz, from a patient who used the comics with her children whilst she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

I'm looking forward to reviewing these with the eldest reviewer, Shaun, over the coming weeks.


No comments: