Mit.OnOff: A Science Communication Project for Public Awareness about Mitochondrial Cytopathies

Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 2023 Sep 14. doi: 10.2174/1871530323666230914114434. Online ahead of print.


INTRODUCTION: Mitochondrial diseases are rare, heterogeneous, incurable and complex to diagnose. Probably due to their rareness, there is still a lack of literacy in this area, especially in society, but also in schools and in general, health care services. Accordingly, tools that may bring advancement in science and health literacy are needed. Mit.OnOff is a science communication project based on a bilateral partnership between the University of Coimbra (Portugal) and the University of Bergen (Norway). It aims to inform society about rare diseases related to mitochondrial cytopathies with an emphasis on LHON.

METHODS: The initiative focuses on the creation of an illustrated book explaining the diseases caused by the failure of energy production in simple and accessible language. The aim is to raise awareness (particularly in Portugal and Norway) and provide in-depth knowledge to people suffering from these diseases.

RESULTS/CASE REPORT: This project involves expert scientists in the field of mitochondrial disease, science communicators and artists in alignment with the United Nations SDGs, Agenda 2030. Mit.OnOff is a bilateral partnership (Portugal and Norway) established to address the lack of knowledge and health literacy on the subject of mitochondrial disease. The book will be distributed in both countries, creating a sense of inclusion and visibility and influencing decisions regarding these diseases. It is a relevant educational medium (e.g., schools, health care provision). The distribution of the book is complemented with other communication materials. Oral communications are made, together with public involvement, in which special glasses will be distributed to simulate a mitochondrial disease that leads to blindness (LHON) for the public to experience what it is like living with a rare disease.

CONCLUSION: It is hoped that the production of this book will give patients a sense of inclusion and representation in the media. This, in turn, will contribute to achieving the SDG targets (3,4,5,8,10,12), i.e., ensuring people live healthy lives, reducing child mortality, and increasing life expectancy, ensuring access to inclusive, equitable and quality education for all, ensuring gender equality, and contributing to a peaceful and prosperous world.

PMID:37711115 | DOI:10.2174/1871530323666230914114434