GAIA Vaccine Foundation is thrilled to announce the official start of our latest project, "Corona Kèlè". Supported through Merck's Investigator Studies Program, the project will assess vaccine confidence at the community level and among healthcare workers in both urban and rural areas of Mali.
The study will include both community outreach and professional development workshops for healthcare workers about COVID-19 vaccination as well as childhood vaccines and the HPV vaccine. GAIA VF will use data from surveys to examine the causes of vaccine hesitancy and report to the Malian government about effective vaccination campaign strategies.
A new "storytelling cloth" or "pagne qui parle" has been designed to visually illustrate how COVID-19 is spread and how it can be prevented (hand washing, social distancing, mask wearing). Per the West African tradition of conveying messages through textiles, GAIA VF has harnessed this tradition to convey publica health messaging. Displaying information visually is extremely important in Mali where literarcy is extremely low. Only 35% of Malians are considered literate, and this statistic drops to only 25% among Malian women (even lower in rural areas). The cloth will be used as a teaching aid throughout the campaign and worn by healthcare workers.
On September 1, 2021, the project kicked off with an inaugural event in Bamako. Communications consultant, Nana Haidara and GAIA VF Director and Study Coordinator, Dr. Karamoko Tounkara provided opening remarks on the importance of the project. Former Malian Minister of Health, Dr. Fanta Sibly discussed the current problem of COVID-19 vaccination in Mali. Rural Site Coordinator, Dr. Amalle Daou Keita, spoke of the importance of community involvement in the fight against COVID-19. Dr. Ibrahima Teguete who is a Malian expert on HPV and cervical cancer, introduced the program's objectives.
A surveyor training was held on September 7 for 28 representatives of the 14 study sites by Dr. Tounkara and Project Assistant Mamadou Coulibaly. On September 9, an initial training for outreach workers was held at the ASACOBA clinic. "We went over questions, explained the study, how to approach people, how to complete consent forms, how to code what links the study-center and patient...a real enthusiasm for the study was expressed by the participants", Dr. Tounkara reported.
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