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MSF in Guinea, 2007
Reason for intervention:
Field Staff: 272
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Rising commodity prices, falling living standards and pervasive corruption in guinea triggered strikes and social unrest at the beginning of 2007, leaving an estimated 180 people dead and more than 1,000 injured. MSF provided care to the wounded during the violent turmoil and continued to treat HIV/AIDS patients in its projects while also responding to cholera outbreaks during the rainy season.
caring for the wounded Violence unfolded in the capital, Conakry, and in cities like Guéckédou at the Liberian border in February as a consequence of the country’s worsening economic and political crisis. MSF provided emergency medical assistance to Conakry’s Matam health centre and to Guéckédou hospital, transferring the most serious cases to Donka hospital in Conakry. MSF treated more than 150 injured people during this two-month emergency operation. With material and technical support from MSF, Donka hospital also cared for a further 800 wounded people.
Treating TB, malaria and HIV/AIDS
MSF has supported care for people affected with malaria in Dabola province.
Economic stagnation combined with the shortcomings of the cost-recovery healthcare system has impeded the population’s access to healthcare. MSF continued to address HIV/ AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis (TB). Around 32,000 outpatient consultations were conducted for patients with HIV and TB, with about 700 diagnosed with TB and treated in Conakry and Guéckédou, including many who were co-infected with HIV/AIDS.
Existing actors and their capacities have been insufficient to meet the needs of HIV-infected patients. MSF has, therefore, run two HIV/AIDS programmes in Guéckédou and Conakry since 2003 and offered anti-retroviral treatment (ART) since 2004. In 2007, MSF scaled up its activities and initiated the decentralization of care for HIV/AIDS patients from Matam center to several other health centers in order to bring free healthcare closer to the patients. MSF followed the treatment of 3,900 people with HIV/AIDS and provided ART to some 2,400 patients, more than 50 per cent of all patients under ART in Guinea.
Since 2005, MSF has supported care for people affected with malaria in Dabola province and lobbied for the use of Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), a more efficient treatment to fight the disease. MSF has provided ACT and diagnostics tests to outpatient services and nine health centers in the region. Although the government agreed in 2005 to modify the national malaria treatment protocol to include the use of ACT, this life-saving treatment was still not available to a majority of Guineans by the end of 2007, mainly due to the cost. This may, however, be resolved in the near future as The Global Fund finally decided in October to grant funds to Guinea for ACT. MSF is planning to leave Dabola in 2008; in the meantime, MSF will document the use of ®Arthemeter to treat severe cases of malaria.
Responding to cholera outbreaks
Cholera is endemic in Guinea, where poor hygiene and sanitation provide a breading ground for epidemics. The cholera epidemic was particularly extreme, especially in Conakry, which accounted for half of all cases. More than 8,000 cases and about 300 deaths were registered. By November, MSF had opened two additional cholera centers in the areas of Ratoma and Matoto, in Conakry. MSF treated about 4,000 patients during this operation.
In August, MSF ended its project in the region of N’Zérékoré (in Guinée forestière), after the official closure of the Lainé refugee camp following the departure of most refugees. MSF had provided assistance in the camp for five years to people fleeing Liberia and Ivory Coast, offering basic, inpatient, outpatient and maternal care as well as treatment for women with HIV/AIDS and victims of violence. On departure, MSF gave the hospitals of Lola and N’Zérékoré a one-year supply of anti-retroviral drugs for HIV positive patients who had started their treatment with MSF.
MSF has worked in Guinea since 1984.