Project #7509

HPV and Cervical Cancer Prevention for West Africa

by GAIA Vaccine Foundation
Mariam is the right age to receive an HPV vaccine
Mariam is the right age to receive an HPV vaccine

We are thrilled to be back in Bamako, and we’re writing you with a special request:

We met with our “Story-telling Cloth" collaborators to go over the results of the Community Education & Cervical Cancer Screening Campaign. When we met with the director of the National Immunization Program, she was very impressed with our report on high levels of HPV vaccination acceptance and extensive training of healthcare personnel for increased screening.

She informed us that there are leftover doses from the HPV Vaccine pilot program and they need to use them before they expire. She is wondering if she could do a campaign with the doses in the district of Bamako where we already educated the population with the “story telling cloth” program.  This is the perfect opportunity to pilot a “Mother-Daughter Cervical Cancer Prevention” program so that moms can get screened and girls can get vaccinated in the same clinic appointment.

There are 7,981 leftover doses from her pilot project that they could give out in Bamako. These doses expire in November, and they need to get the doses out quickly. If we could get the vaccine to the community clinics we work with, then they will apply for the 2nd dose in 6 months so that all girls are fully protected against infection.

Here’s what we need to mobilize healthcare personnel and get those vaccine doses to girls in our community:

  • Weeklong census activity to register 10 year old, vaccine-eligible, girls in the district. ($2,000 would cover daily stipends and transportation for the census staff)
  • Supervision of the team of vaccinators deployed to clinics and community sites on vaccine campaign days. ($2,000 for daily stipends and transportation for the supervision staff)
  • Vaccinators’ salaries are already covered in the National Program budget.
  • Training for census staff, vaccinators and supervisors would take place in partnership with the Bamako public health office ($10,000 for a 2 week training event with the different teams).

With $14,000, we could get 7,981 girls vaccinated against HPV. Breaking down the cost per girl, that’s just $1.75 to get a child a vaccine that would otherwise go to waste.

 So, what do you say? Can we make this happen?

 Please join us to help protect girls from cervical cancer in Mali!

Patient at the clinic wearing the cloth
Patient at the clinic wearing the cloth

We are excited to announce that 3,271 women were screened from April through October 2015; a 5-fold increase in rates through the efforts of the campaign!

While cervical cancer screening had been available in 2014, rates were low due to lack of demand for the procedure, lack of staff training, and lack of supplies. We were able to address all these issue through low-cost interventions. We ensured that screening supplied were monitored and restocked at each clinic. By training healthcare staff in partnership with public health officials, we ensured that all changes and improvements were accepted and monitored. These officials were able to help us overcome barriers when issues arose. All the midwives who were trained to do screening have continued training new midwives to perform the procedure. 

The momentum gained during our campaign is continuing! Women are still requesting screening, and even clinic night staff report getting requests for screening. 

Interestingly, we were encouraged to see high rates of HIV testing at all clinics (77% of 500 women surveyed), including the clinic where GAIA has run an HIV prevention program for over a decade. While only 13% of women had heard of HPV, the majority of women had heard of cervical cancer and there was a strong desire for HPV vaccination.  Of the women who wanted their daughters vaccinated 73% specifically mentioned “prevention” or “protection”, and 11% responded using the Malian proverb that was printed on the cloth, “It’s better to prevent than cure”.

Due to the scientific nature of the print, we also asked women how they interpreted the design. After they had learned about HPV and cervical cancer during an education session, 99% (of 238 women who participated in an education session) were able to correctly identify the imagery in the cloth pattern (although 20% also said it looked like “flowers in a field” and 10% said “stars in the sky”, demonstrating that the pattern has some abstract interpretations that make it more decorative and wearable). Since the fabric was widely distributed, we witnessed a much broader uptake than expected. Many men and children also wore the story-telling cloth regularly. It was spotted in the central market place, and always generated questions and curiosity. 

As news and imagery of the “story-telling cloth” spreads, it is gaining recognition and interest. In a recent discussion with a researcher in Ghana, there is significant interest in establishing a similar method of community-led education using the cloth pattern to raise cervical cancer screening rates. 

With our success in the first campaign, we are eager to gain support to continue to expand this program. The next step is to run a similar campaign in rural parts of Mali where women have even less access to care. Please join us, and remember, you can sport you own style of "story-telling cloth" by ordering it through the website here!

Screening rate increase at each clinic
Screening rate increase at each clinic
One of our surgeons with her HPV cloth bag
One of our surgeons with her HPV cloth bag


Dr. Fanta wearing the HPV cloth
Dr. Fanta wearing the HPV cloth

Our 6-month cervical cancer screening campaign in Mali ended in October. We are proud to say that over 3,000 women were screened and rates increased 6-fold since the previous year!

Good news for HPV vaccination: 92% of 200 women who answered questionnaires wanted the HPV vaccine to be available in Mali.

Our HPV "Story-telling cloth" was a big hit at the 5 clinics, and both midwives and patients are all still wearing their stylish new fashion. The pattern includes a slogan in French; “I protect myself, I care for myself, and I get vaccinated” as well as a local proverb in Bambara; “ It’s better to prevent than cure”. By connecting this commonly known proverb with the information about HPV, CC, screening and vaccination, women were encouraged to take preventative measures. When asked if they would get their daughter vaccinated, 89% of women said yes, and when asked why, many specifically mentioned “prevention” or “protection”.

Now, even though the study is over, women are still coming to the clinic for screenings, and the midwives are making every effort to ensure that all women get screened (even the night staff have been doing some screening!) However, the last of the supplies are running low, and if they are not re-stocked, women will have to be turned away. News travels fast through the grapevine in Mali, and women won’t waste their time coming to the clinic if they hear that the supplies ran out.

That is why it’s of utmost importance to find a way to keep these cheap and basic supplies in the clinic. With only a liter of acetic acid (concentrated vinegar) and iodine, over 200 women can be screened each month. 

The cost for one clinic is only $160: to get 200 women screened.
If you make a donation today, your gift will save a woman from cervical cancer.

Let’s keep our midwives busy!

Thank you for your support

Increase in screening rates from 2014 to 2015
Increase in screening rates from 2014 to 2015
Team members explain cervical cancer screening
Team members explain cervical cancer screening

GAIA's 6-month study on cervical cancer prevention is drawing to a close and soon we'll have concrete results to share with the public health community in Mali!

Last week, we shared our research at the HPV conference in Lisbon, and here are some of the results we’d love to share with you:

In the first 4 months of the study, over 2,000 women were screened at the 5 participating clinics. 200 women answered our survey. When asked why they came in for a screening, 14.5% had participated in a peer educator-led education session in their neighborhood, 37.5% had participated in a healthcare personnel-led education session in their clinic, 19% heard about screening through word of mouth, and 17.5 % were referred by their doctor. All of these methods were more successful than the 9% of women who saw a government-run TV ad.

Only 17.5% knew what HPV was, but 81.5% had heard of cervical cancer. This is great news because it shows that women are starting to gain awareness about the importance of screening. 92.5% wanted the HPV vaccine to be available in Mali, and 87% wanted to enroll their daughter in a vaccination program.

94 women answered questions about the education session, and 94.6% thought the info they received was interesting. 82% had seen the HPV cloth, and 79% were able to correctly identify the information depicted in the cloth. 92.5% thought that textile design was a good way to transmit health information to women. 92.5% said they had shared the information they learned with others, and 95.7% said they would recommend screening to a friend, neighbor, or family member.

In celebration of September, Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month, we are incredibly happy to have such great results from our campaign. Our team in Mali has learned so much and we are eager to refine our program as we continue to look for funding to continue offering screening and prevention to women.

Please join us in the fight against cervical cancer! We are making progress, but there is still a lot of work to be done! Your support means the world to us!

Midwives in Sikoro
Midwives in Sikoro
Dr. Tounkara presenting data at the HPV conference
Dr. Tounkara presenting data at the HPV conference
Women with HPV cloth show their screening cards
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:

We are infinitely grateful for your support,

Healthcare workers dressed in HPV cloth
Healthcare workers dressed in HPV cloth
HPV cloth is for men too!
HPV cloth is for men too!
GAIA team matching outfits!
GAIA team matching outfits!
midwives wearing HPV cloth
midwives wearing HPV cloth

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

GAIA Vaccine Foundation

Location: Providence, RI - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Anne De Groot
Founder and Scientific Director
Providence, RI United States
$3,801 raised of $50,000 goal
57 donations
$46,199 to go
Donate Now Add Project to Favorites

Help raise money for this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page for this project.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence


Woman Holding a Gift Card
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.