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MSF in Guinea, 2006/2007
Field Staff: 306
Reason for Intervention:
All articles on Guinea »
In early 2007, falling living standards sparked protests resulting in almost 100 deaths, reinforcing fears that Guinea could be on the brink of becoming Africa’s next failed state. During this unrest, an MSF emergency team worked from the capital, Conakry, helping to treat the hundreds of wounded people admitted to Donka hospital and several urban health centers.
It is not just civil unrest that killed people in 2006/2007 in Guinea, but also a general lack of healthcare. The shortcomings of the national health system are demonstrated by the inadequate treatment available for malaria, tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/AIDS. MSF has increased its efforts to address these diseases in the country and is using the experience of its programs to lobby the government for improvements in the provision of treatment.
Treating malaria, tuberculosis and HIV For over 98 percent of the estimated 127,500 people living with HIV/AIDS in Guinea, this manageable disease is likely to lead to death. Despite the development of an official national response and plans to put 25,000 patients on anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment, the reality is these lifesaving medicines lie out of reach for almost all patients.
MSF began treating patients living with HIV/ AIDS in August 2003 through two projects: one in the capital, Conakry and the other in Guéckedou, on the Liberian border. From these two centers MSF offers voluntary counseling and testing - a much needed service in a country where only one percent of the population has access to such testing - and regular consultations for all people who test HIV-positive. Anti-retroviral drugs (ARV) have been provided since 2004 and by the end of November 2006, more than 1,200 MSF patients were benefiting from ARVs, representing almost half of all patients receiving treatment in the country.
Tuberculosis is one of the most common and lethal opportunistic infections for people living with HIV/AIDS. MSF has improved the diagnosis and treatment of TB in the capital by training medical staff, improving case detection and treatment, and providing drugs. MSF activities now exclusively address HIV/TB co-infection. These patients are treated through outpatient consultations. Malaria is endemic in Guinea, and responsible for 35 percent of medical consultations in the country. Despite the government agreeing to introduce the far more effective malaria drug ACT (artemisinin combination therapy) over two years ago, this drug is rarely available to the average Guinean. MSF is lobbying the authorities to rectify this whilst simultaneously providing ACT treatment in Dabola province from the hospital and surrounding health structures. In 2006 more than 13,000 patients were treated with ACT in this area.
Refugees leave Guinea For the last 15 years, MSF’s activities in Guinea have also included medical care for refugees fleeing fighting in neighbouring Sierra Leone and Liberia. By mid-2007 almost all these refugees have returned home and with their departure comes the closure of MSF’s last remaining refugee project in the country, for Liberian refugees in Guinea Forestière.
MSF has worked in Guinea since 1984.