Women with HPV cloth show their screening cards
I was in a taxi passing the marketplace when I saw it: a bright blue dress with a looping yellow pattern worn by a woman disappearing into the crowd. The yellow pattern of interlocking uteruses, which could, at a quick glance, be mistook for a floral vine, is our HPV educational cloth, printed at COMATEX, the main Malian textile company. It is currently being worn on the streets of Bamako and distributed at 5 health clinics where cervical cancer screening is offered free to all women!
Our campaign is called “Sensibilisation”, meaning community education. By working through cultural communication channels like well-loved radio programming for women, community health workers, and influential women leaders, we have increased screening rates at the five participating clinics by over 6 fold. In Mali, where 44 out of every 100 thousand women die of cervical cancer, spreading information about the importance of screening will not only save women’s lives, it will prevent children losing a parent, and ensure that communities know the importance of HPV vaccination once the vaccine is widely available.
As for the fabric pattern, does it work? Although we only have preliminary data from a questionnaire given to women seeking screening, the numbers speak for themselves! Of all the women who had seen the cloth, 87% correctly identified the images in the pattern. This means our peer educators are doing an excellent job explaining the cloth, and our doctors and midwives are working hard to make sure women are referred for screenings. Everyone is doing their part to fight cervical cancer!
Not only is GAIA covering the cost of cervical cancer screening and the educational campaign, we are also providing biopsies to women who test positive for pre-cancerous lesions and free referrals for treatment so that they can enjoy a cancer-free future.
As a long-time supporter of this initiative, you have seen our long-dreamt of plans become life-saving realities. However, without your continued support, this program will run out of funding in September. Please consider making a gift so that we can keep offering life saving treatment to women in Mali. You can learn more about getting a piece of the cloth yourself by visiting our website: http://www.gaiavaccine.org/get-cloth/
We are infinitely grateful for your support,
Healthcare workers dressed in HPV cloth
HPV cloth is for men too!
GAIA team matching outfits!
midwives wearing HPV cloth