Project #7509

HPV and Cervical Cancer Prevention for West Africa

by GAIA Vaccine Foundation
Knowledge, Attitudes, Practices on HPV and cancer
Knowledge, Attitudes, Practices on HPV and cancer

After many years of hard work and research on cervical cancer in Bamako, Mali, our team is proud to announce the recent publication of two articles in PLOS ONE, a multidisciplinary Open Access journal.

The first article, “Knowledge, attitudes, practices and willingness to vaccinate in preparation for the introduction of HPV vaccines in Bamako, Mali” describes data collected from 301 interviews with men and women, adults and adolescents in Bamako. This study shows that Malians are very receptive to HPV vaccination, yet little is know about the virus and its connection to cervical cancer. 

The second article, “Prevalence of HPV 16 and 18 and attitudes toward HPV vaccination trials in patients with cervical cancer in Mali”, investigates whether vaccine-preventable strains of HPV are present among cervical cancer patients in Mali. This study confirms that currently available HPV vaccines could have a significant impact on preventing cervical cancer in Mali. Similarly to the first study participants, cervical cancer patients are also eager for the HPV vaccine to be available in their country.

The publication of this research is a huge success for our Malian collaborators. We hope to help them promote their research careers and participate in international health conference to share their data.

Although GAIA’s research campaign ended in 2015, we are continuing to support screening supplies at 5 clinics to ensure women have access to prevention.

Our goal is to renew support for a screening campaign in conjunction with an HPV vaccine pilot program that will address HPV prevention for young girls in 2017. By training staff to perform screenings, we will not only ensure that women receive cancer prevention and treatment, but we will encourage them to seek HPV vaccination for their daughters.

On international women’s day, please support our initiative for Mother-Daughter cancer prevention in Mali!

Prevalence of HPV in Bamako, Mali
Prevalence of HPV in Bamako, Mali


Midwife at the Hope Center Clinic
Midwife at the Hope Center Clinic

Support us today and your donation will be matched 50%!!

This #GivingTuesday there is the incredible opportunity to increase your impact when you choose to support cancer prevention in West Africa!

Our midwives are working hard to consistently offer free cervical cancer screenings at 5 health clinics in Bamako. In fact, there is such high demand for screenings, even the night staff is offering screening!

Now that women are aware of their cancer risk due to our huge, community-driven campaign and widespread "story-telling cloth", they are eager to get screened and have their daughters vaccinated to prevent against HPV.

Thanks to GAIA's advocacy, a branch of the national vaccine demo project is vaccinating girls in our neighborhood!

You can join in our campaign to end cervical cancer in Mali by donating funds to keep the free screening going. And today your gift makes more impact than ever!

We are so grateful for your continued support! Let's make 2017 the year of free screening and vaccination!

Badiallo wants her grandkids to be cancer free!
Badiallo wants her grandkids to be cancer free!
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

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Organization Information

GAIA Vaccine Foundation

Location: Providence, RI - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
GAIA Vaccine Foundation
Providence, RI United States
$7,771 raised of $50,000 goal
82 donations
$42,229 to go
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