GAIA Vaccine Foundation

Our mission is to promote prevention of infectious diseases (HIV, TB, and HPV) in Mali while working to develop vaccines for distribution on a not-for-profit basis in the developing world. The Foundation's activities are centered on four themes: education, prevention, access to care, and vaccines. Through our active, ongoing collaboration with West African physicians and support for prevention-related clinical activities in the region, we work to improve the health of Malian children and their parents while setting the stage for ethical vaccine trials.
Aug 2, 2010

An impact so easy to see, there's no need for words

When originally planning for the trip to West Africa I was at first a bit apprehensive of site visits in French. I've only studied the language for a year and I feared I might not be able to understand the organization's work or get a good sense of their impact if the visit was entirely in French.

Meeting with GAIA Foundation however quickly put these fears aside. Understanding the amazing work of GAIA does not require nuisance or subtlety. Their work is clear, direct and entails the truly praiseworthy work of literally saving lives on a daily basis. Over a number days in Bamako, Mali I had the opportunity to learn about this work both on "official" and "unofficial" site visits with the organization.

Though the "official" site visit occurred on July 12th, I would say the unofficial portion of the visit began when Lorraine and I moved into the GAIA guesthouse and were greeted by two enthusiastic and passionate GAIA volunteers, Tonyu and Emily. I don't think GAIA could have found two better representatives or endorsements than these two. Not only did they spend long nights explaining the difficult situation of health in Mali, but they also detailed the innovate approach GAIA has undertaken and gave us an introduction the inspiring doctor we would meet the following day, the local director of GAIA Dr. Tounkara. He would not disappoint. We learned that the organization works in the Sinkoro area, a part of Bamako that has been traditionally undeserved by health services with approximately 1 doctor per 40,000 patients. Devastating diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis has had a profound effect on the community and continue to disrupt the lives of many throughout the area.

As for the "official" site visit Dr. Tounkara, or as many call him "Kara", walked us through the Hope Clinic, greeting staff and patients alike along the way. He explained how GAIA is working in conjunction with the Malian government to make the clinic into a model that can be replicated throughout the country. The clinic takes a holistic approach to health, but has been greatly aided by GAIA's support in fighting HIV/AIDS and Tubrcolosis through both treatment and outreach.

Sitting down with the head of the Hope clinic, we learned how GAIA has additionally been instrumental in stepping in where the Malian government funds leave off. GAIA has been able to raise funds for advanced medical equipment and facilities, when the government of Mali is unable to provide the funding. What is truly unique is the way GAIA does not direct the improvements but responds to the needs of the community and its leaders.

Donating money can sometimes be a tricky business and it can be difficult to understand the impact of your donation. Furthermore, development models have proven complicated with ambiguous results. These doubts are not necessary with GAIA. Their impact is so clear that even a French beginner can understand them. GAIA's projects transform lives and represent a glimpse at the future of health in Mali.

...and if you're still not convinced they also speak English.

Andrew is an in-the-field traveler visiting numerous GlobalGiving projects. Follow his and his fellow travelers' adventures at www.itfwa.wordpress.com!

Jun 21, 2010

Faciliatating Access to TB Care in Mali 2009

TB Bolo educators are trained to detect tuberculosis and refer patients into the health center. GAIA VF supports half the cost of the clinic visit, while the CSCOM pays for the other half of the cost. This approach lowers the barrier to treatment and has resulted in the detection of a number of TB cases that might otherwise have continued to spread TB in the surrounding community. In 2009 1,560 individuals were educated and over 55 suspect cases were sent to the health center where they were examined by a physician and sent for further testing if required. Due to a low rate of return of positive TB tests at the local laboratory, and problems related to transporting patients to the laboratory for their sputum tests, we helped the CSCOM build a new lab on site to analyze sputum and smears, and hired and trained a new laboratory assistant (Awa). Julie and Lauren (the Brown students that launched our new TB BOLO program) wrote an abstract about their experience that was accepted for oral and poster presentation at the 14th Annual conference of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and lung Disease, North America. Jane Carter, M.D., one of their Brown University mentors, reported that Lauren did an excellent job of presenting our work!

Feb 1, 2010

A work in progress

TB Lab
TB Lab

Dear GAIA Supporter,

Further to Julie and Lauren’s hard work in Mali this summer, our Peer Educators have been trained to educate the public about signs and symptoms of TB and now keep referring possible TB cases to the Hope Center Clinic. As previously mentioned, each person at risk receives a ticket for a consultation and medical exam. This ticket covers 80% of the costs (expenses are covered by GAIA). The Peer Educators have distributed 354 tickets between July and October 2009!

Thanks to your support and the donations made on Global Giving, the Hope Center Clinic in Sikoro has a new lab! A TB Lab to analyze sputum and smears! We also hired and trained Awa our new lab assistant.

Julie and Lauren also wrote an abstract about our work on TB in Mali. The abstract was chosen for oral presentation at the 14th Annual conference of the Union-North America Region to be held Miami in March 2010. Lauren will attend and make a presentation!

… and this wouldn’t have happened without you help… Thank you!

TB lab
TB lab
Peer Educators
Peer Educators