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Textiles for HPV Prevention in Mali

Textiles for HPV Prevention in Mali

Eliza Squibb designs “storytelling cloths” to communicate with West African women about the vital importance of vaccinations to fight cervical cancer .

Eliza Squibb 13 TX continues to design colorful “storytelling cloths” to convey life-saving healthcare messages to West African women.

Through her work as executive director of the nonprofit GAIA Vaccine Foundation, Textiles alum and faculty member Eliza Squibb 13 TX is continuing to help promote the importance of vaccinations in the West African nation of Mali. GAIA, founded by EpiVax CEO Annie De Groot, is committed to getting the word out among Malian women that a vaccine can prevent cervical cancer, which is caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV).

Clinic workers in Bamako, Mali wear fabric designed by Squibb.

GAIA’s strategy—initially supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and now by Merck & Co.—involves educating women via “storytelling cloths” Squibb designs to convey a clear message. The initial design disseminated in 2014 featured brightly colored fabric with a pattern depicting healthy cervixes and text with empowering phrases in French (the country’s official language) that read: “I protect myself, I take care of myself and I immunize myself.”

GAIA’s new campaign, Our Daughters, Ourselves, focuses on passing life-saving advice about the importance of vaccinating to the next generation of young Malian women. With this new audience in mind, Squibb’s colorful textile presents geometric flowering patterns based on mathematical multiples of six (the number of recommended months between the first and second dose of the vaccine) and 12 (the number of months recommended before scheduling a follow-up screening).

“Visual education using the storytelling cloth is an effective tool used by women, for women, to raise awareness and share health information.”
Eliza Squibb 13 TX

In the first month of the recently launched, yearlong campaign, more than 1,600 women were screened for cervical cancer and 200 girls vaccinated for HPV. “Our experience in Mali,” says Squibb—a Textiles alumna who now also teaches in the Textiles department—“demonstrates that visual education using the storytelling cloth is an effective tool used by women, for women, to raise awareness and share health information.”

Simone Solondz

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