Parasite Street Science: An Arts and Science Public Engagement Project

Bialic, H. and Veitch, N. (2023) Parasite Street Science: An Arts and Science Public Engagement Project. EUSEA 2023: Pathfinders on a Mission, Bolzano, Italy, 3-4 May 2023.

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Sleeping sickness is a significant health issue in rural Africa. The disease, caused by trypanosome parasites and spread by tsetse flies, is fatal if left untreated. It is most prevalent in resource-poor settings often far from healthcare facilities, and initial presentation is similar to malaria. As a result, many cases go undiagnosed or present late in infection. Furthermore, misinformation and a lack of trust in scientists and healthcare professionals has often resulted in diagnosis and treatment not being sought. The aim of Parasite Street Science was to provide a model for using performance theatre to stimulate discussion about research into sleeping sickness to enhance trust in scientists within affected communities in Malawi. The project created a new interactive street theatre performance which was piloted at a football match at Partick Thistle in Glasgow. After refining and modifying for a Malawi audience using Malawian music and collaborating with a professional theatre director, scientists, health promotion officers, clinicians, nurses, survivors of sleeping sickness, and Life Sciences students, it toured sleeping sickness endemic areas, putting on six performances, where invited audiences from affected communities to actively participate in an enjoyable and fun event. Following performances, local community radio was used to widen the reach of the work, with phone in Q&A sessions taking place with local scientists from Malawi answering questions relating to sleeping sickness. Digital resources, including a web site, videos of the performance and interviews with participants have been developed to ensure a tangible legacy of the work.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bialic, Miss Hannah and Veitch, Dr Nicola
Authors: Bialic, H., and Veitch, N.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Infection & Immunity
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2023 The Authors
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with the permission of the authors
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