Graphic Medicine Review of "One World, One Fight!" by Rafa Marrón
Updated: Nov 28, 2020
The original text was written in Spanish by Rafa Marrón and can be accessed here: https://medicinagrafica.com/2020/10/18/un-planeta-un-desafio/
Wendy Hao is a young doctor who decides to go to Wuhan following the Chinese government's call to medical workers to help control the COVID-19 pandemic. Together with head nurse, Jane Jin, and director of the Department of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Dr. Li, , they will show us the great work done by medical workers during the pandemic.
One World, One Fight! is a graphic novel produced by Gen Z Group, an educational media company based in Singapore. It is a non-profit project aimed at raising public awareness of the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. The work is an adaptation of the Handbook of COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment, jointly published by Jack Ma Foundation and The First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University School of Medicine. The graphic novel serves as a reference for Chinese healthcare system in the fight against COVID-19. This graphic novel has been translated into about 20 languages and can be downloaded for free from Gen Z Group's website (www.genzgroup.org). Juan Antonio Prieto Velasco, professor in the Translation and Interpretation Area of Pablo de Olavide University (Sevilla) was responsible for the Spanish translation.
Healthcare professionals were consulted by the Gen Z team and Chinese manga artist REVOLVER, known for drawing suspense graphic novel, took extensive care to illustrate the graphic novel. It is a fully colored graphic novel structured into five episodes. The narrative is focused on the experiences of the young Dr. Wendy Hao, allowing the reader to see the story from the point of view of a healthcare worker and get to know first-hand the incredible work done during the pandemic in China.
The first episode begins with the communication of young Dr. Wendy Hao to her parents of her decision to go to Wuhan to assist in the control of the pandemic with her mentor Dr. Li, director of the Department of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. In Wuhan, Wendy begins her training with other newly arrived healthcare professionals across the country. Head nurse, Jane Jin, conducts training of the donning and removal of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and the protocols of action in different clinical situations. Wendy failed the first test and is instructed to do community education in the local neighbourhood.
The second episode begins with an angry Wendy doing COVID-19 public education work on the streets of Wuhan. Wendy's longing is to work in the hospital and she finds it hard to accept that she has to do otherwise. But you will soon understand the importance that this task has in controlling the transmission of the virus, a situation that allows the reader to show the epidemiological aspects and preventive measures to be taken to cut off the transmission of the virus. An elderly passer-by woman with respiratory symptoms caught the attention of Wendy and she ends up accompanying the old woman to the hospital. There Wendy is recruited by Jane, the head nurse. The shortage of health workers is notorious and Wendy goes on to help at the Early Detection Post, which the hospital has assembled for the care of patients suspected of coronavirus infection, there she meets Dr. Li who gives instructions on sample collection, and discusses the lesions that SARS-Cov-2 causes in the lungs and radiological images it produces. Dr. Li offers Wendy to work with him in the respiratory intensive care unit.
The third episode shows the strict personal protective measures that health workers have to take to enter the COVID area (called the "contaminated zone"). Dr. Hao continues to care in the ICU for the old lady who she helped on the streets of Wuhan. This episode highlights the importance of taking care of patients' mental state, especially the sense of isolation and loneliness. Wendy's use of social media to relieve the sorrow of her elderly patient illustrates one of the graphic novel's most emotional moments. The feeling of isolation is no stranger to the healthcare workers, as they also isolated from their families.
The fourth episode begins with the medical team devastated by news of Dr. Li's infection, but he is able to motivate and encourage his team to continue the fight against the virus. In this chapter, Wendy will have to handle critical situations caused by respiratory complications and shows the protocol of removal of PPE and exit from the contaminated area.
The fifth episode addresses care for discharged patients such as respiratory rehabilitation or the social-health aspects that arise when they have to follow quarantine at home. A tribute to the vocation of the healthcare workers, represented in Wendy's figure, gives a beautiful ending to this wonderful story of great dedication.
Each episode incorporates an excerpt of the Handbook of COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment that elaborates on the knowledge illustrated in the respective episodes. The complete handbook can be accessed via a QR code.
WHY IT'S GRAPHIC MEDICINE
The UN on 27 March 2020 made a global appeal to creatives to convey information to the population on preventive and medical aspects of the pandemic and the world of comics is an ideal means of meeting this goal.
This novel bridges the open information gap between healthcare professionals and the public. There are not many graphic novels created during the pandemic that presented to the general public the reality of what was happening within hospitals, the consequences of the disease and the great effort made to control the virus in such details. The choice of graphic novel is no coincidence. The presentation of this reality by the media through photographs or filming would possibly not be well tolerated by today's society and would have been labeled as sensationalistic, however, the comic offers a narrative typical of cinema and a representation of reality through drawings that makes it more tolerable and effective. In addition, the manga technique brings its narrative strength and expressiveness which allows readers to emphasize.
As already mentioned, the work is based on the Handbook of COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment, which has served as a reference for Chinese healthcare workers. If anything to note about this work is the high scientific level and exquisite rigor both in the graphic representation of medical devices (the drawing of high flow nasal cannula is impeccable) ,the tedious steps of donning and removal of the PPE, and the techniques such as intubation and thoracic decompression, are of medical textbook standard.
The plot managed to allow our main character, Dr. Wendy Hao, to go through all the key topics of the Handbook in a fluid manner, allowing readers to enjoy the medical knowledge in a pleasant and accessible way with the doses of drama and the expressiveness of the graphics without compromising the scientific accuracy.
The measures and protocols applied by the Chinese authorities in the pandemic are not extrapolated 100 percent to other countries, but the frontline healthcare workers can refer to many of the situations depicted in this graphic novel, so this graphic novel is a highly recommended read for both healthcare workers and the general public. In short, we have in our hands a very valuable material, and as such deserves the greatest possible exposure.