14 October 2009 – Balti, Moldova – This week the Moldovan NGO, Speranta Terrei, has kicked off a TB awareness campaign in this northern city of 128 000 residents. The campaign is built around the image and messages of Stop TB Partnership Ambassador Luis Figo and includes the launch of the comic book Luis Figo and the World Tuberculosis Cup.

In the run-up to the launch the group hung two large banners bearing Figo’s image along Avenue Stefan cel Mare. The display was made possible through the support of Mayor Vasili Panciuc and Vice Mayor Irina Serdiuc. The mayoralty also donated the use of an auditorium for the launch, which took place on 9 October.

At the launch event volunteers from Balti Medical College, who had formed a theatre troop for the occasion, re-enacted the battle between Figo’s team of teens and the team of TB germs that takes place in the comic book Luis Figo and the World Tuberculosis Cup. A public service announcement on TB, featuring Figo, was also screened for the audience in its Russian-language version. Mayor Vasilii Panciuc of Balti, Dr Feodora Rodiucova of Speranta Terrei, and Dr. Silviu Ciobanu of WHO’s country office opened the event with remarks on combating TB and using Figo comics to communicate with school children.

Igori Istratii, vice-captain of the football club “Locomotiv” in Balti, told the gathering about Luis Figo’s life and his football prowess. He said he will share Figo’s TB messages with his team members. Dr Rodiucova presented the story depicted in the comic book, which is being distributed to local school children this week along with materials from Moldova’s national TB public awareness campaign.

A segment on the event was broadcast on the evening television news on Balti Teleradio. In-depth reports on the campaign will be broadcast in the coming week on Republican (national) Television and Balti Teleradio.

The Figo campaign, which is supported by the Stop TB Partnership, is starting up in Balti’s schools and kindergartens but will fan out across the country. The team of volunteers also will deliver messages about tuberculosis and distribute comic books and postcards in the Moldovan cities of Chisinau, Orhei and Ungheni.