Called the "worst outbreak of Ebola virus ever", the current spread of Ebola across West Africa is devastating to witness. Lack of information about Ebola symptoms or how to prevent infection is a common problem in rural areas. Health workers need comprehensive educational tools to help people understand how to react to signs of illness. West-African style fabric, which is the most prevalent type of garment, is the best means for ensuring that educational messages about health are widespread.
Pictorial depictions of symptoms are an innovative method for engaging communities, and while posters may have reached West African clinics, a fabric print that show relevant information will go farther towards educating the public. People need to be reassured that health care workers in intimidating protective gear are there to help and stop the virus. Communication about important issues, like how to react to a sick family member, will be facilitated by the images in the pattern design.
Weak health care systems in West Africa have enabled the spread of Ebola virus, and now, more than ever, is the time to work towards strengthening the systems and supporting solutions that keep people safe. By developing colorful patterns to spread relevant health information, GAIA VF is using a long-standing textile tradition as a new means for preventative healthcare. Although dialects across West Africa differ, textile styles and imagery form a universal language that can influence millions.
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