Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes cervical cancer, the most common and fatal cancer among Malian women. However, HPV strains 16 and 18 (that cause 70% of cervical cancers) can be prevented by a vaccine that has already been approved in 125 countries. Sadly, developing nations often do not have access to vaccines that are functioning and saving lives in the rest of the world. Few women in Mali know the importance of receiving a simple cervical exam once a year to prevent cervical cancer.
Vaccination campaigns can run into resistance in some cultures if the population has not been adequately informed of the benefits and rationale for vaccination. By printing a "story-telling" cloth in the West African wax print style, we will help to empower and inform communities in preparation for vaccination.
Our project will lead to the distribution of the HPV vaccine, which will reduce the rates of mortality from cervical cancer by reducing HPV infections. We will also raise cervical cancer screening rates by educating communities. By spreading visual education, we can raise awareness about this deadly disease that kills women during the prime of their lives. One woman who participated in our education initiative said, "I want my daughter to be vaccinated so that she may be sheltered from cancer."