Join us in celebrating International Women’s Day 2018 with women and girls in Mali

Today is the official launch of the latest phase of our program to fight cervical cancer in West Africa.

Cervical cancer, caused by the vaccine-preventable human Papillomavirus (HPV), kills 300,000 women globally each year. Mali has one of the highest rates of cervical cancer in West Africa. 

GAIA has developed an innovative method for community education for disease prevention called the “story-telling cloth”. Based on West African-style “wax print” patterns, GAIA’s fabric design incorporates local textile traditions and explores new avenues for health communication.

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Our experience in Mali demonstrates that visual education using the story-telling cloth is an effective tool used by women, for women, to raise awareness and share health information. 

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In 2015, with a Grand Challenge Exploration Grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we partnered with 5 community clinics in Bamako to train staff, offer free cervical cancer screening, and launch a community education campaign with our story-telling cloth.

During the 6-month campaign, screening rates increased 5-fold at the participating clinics and over 3,000 women received free screening. 

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Today, with funding from Merck & Co., We are officially launching the second phase of our prevention campaign in partnership with the GAVI Alliance program for HPV vaccination in Mali. The campaign, titled “Our Daughters, Ourselves”, focuses on prevention methods across generations. Healthcare personnel at 6 clinics have received training, and free screening and HPV vaccination will be available throughout the campaign. During the first month of the campaign (Feb 2018) more than 1,600 women were screened and 200 girls vaccinated. In just 2 months, GAIA’s program will surpass screening records from 2015, demonstrating the value of community outreach for prevention. 

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Our healthcare personnel partners are wearing the the new story-telling cloth pattern for mother-daughter cancer prevention!

The design features geometric flowering patterns based on mathematical multiples of 6 and 12 petals. Both numbers serve as medical appointment reminders built into the pattern: girls need the 2nd dose of the vaccine 6 months after the first, and women need a follow-up screening 12 months after a normal screen.

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