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MSF in Guinea, 2010
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Health facilities are poorly distributed across Guinea, and the health system lacks staff, medicine and equipment. Where the national health system cannot meet needs, people are likely to turn to expensive private clinics or traditional medicine. MSF works in the capital Conakry and the remote region of Guéckédou, providing paediatric care, and treatment for malaria (the main cause of child mortality) and HIV/AIDS.
Paediatric care in Conakry
Residents of Matam, a district of Conakry, can rarely afford to go to public health centres, and this has a particularly heavy impact on the wellbeing of young children and pregnant or breastfeeding women. Almost half of all children who die before they are one month old have never been taken to a health facility.
MSF is working with the national health authorities to implement a paediatric programme in three centres in Matam. Sixty community health workers have been hired to help encourage people to make use of the health centres. More than 42,400 consultations were carried out in 2010, including 14,200 for malaria.
MSF staff also work at the National Institute for Children’s Health in Conakry, training and advising medical staff and ensuring free care and drugs for children referred to the neonatal and nutrition wards of the institute. Almost 2,300 children were admitted to the neonatal department in 2010 and more than 1,000 were admitted to the feeding centre from March 2010, when MSF started activities, to December.
Reaching rural populations
Each year, malaria affects more than a quarter of the population of Guéckédou, an area in the south of the country around 700 kilometres from the capital. Artemisinin-based combination therapy, which is more effective than the treatment traditionally used against malaria and prevents the development of drug resistance, is now available in Guinea, but the drugs are still difficult to obtain in remote areas.
MSF has begun a project in Guéckédou to build a community-based malaria prevention and care system. Teams support the emergency and paediatric departments in Guéckédou hospital, but also work in 15 health centres. MSF’s community health workers distribute mosquito nets, conduct awareness campaigns, and implement early detection measures, ensuring that people with malaria receive treatment as rapidly as possible. In the last quarter of 2010, when MSF started activities, more than 9,700 consultations were held with patients thought to be affected by malaria. More than 5,800 patients were diagnosed with and treated for malaria.
The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Guinea is not high compared with some countries in sub-Saharan Africa, but there are major gaps in the national HIV programme. MSF’s projects are the main initiatives on HIV in the country, but only cover some of the HIV care needs. More than 5,000 people were receiving antiretroviral (ARV) treatment from MSF at the end of 2010, about one-third of those being treated in the country.
Four health centres in Conakry receive support in providing HIV care. MSF supplied medicines, power and water to the centres. A team supervises activities relating to HIV/AIDS and trains HIV/AIDS staff. In 2011, MSF will work with two more health centres in the city, strengthening prevention of mother-to-child transmission services in particular.
MSF has worked in Guinea since 1984.