Guinea-Bissau is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. Access to health care is severely limited due to a lack of facilities, resources, and qualified staff.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) runs a project in the country’s only tertiary facility, Simão Mendes National Hospital, in the capital, Bissau, focusing on child health. Our teams manage pediatric emergencies and inpatient therapeutic feeding, as well as pediatric and neonatal intensive care.
Respiratory infections, malaria, diarrhea, and meningitis are the main diseases affecting children in Guinea-Bissau; for newborns, asphyxia and neonatal sepsis are the principal causes of death. We have established a functioning triage system in the pediatric emergency unit to guarantee faster and more efficient treatment and have worked closely with the Ministry of Health to ensure that the correct protocols and treatment procedures are implemented to reduce child mortality. We are now working towards introducing more technical or sophisticated treatments, which require better trained medical staff and more specialized equipment, to treat more complex and critical patients.
In April, we closed our project in the central region of Bafatá, having successfully reinforced the local health services in the area. Since 2014, we had been managing the pediatric services and nutrition program for children under the age of five at the regional hospital, supporting health centers in rural areas and training community health workers to diagnose and treat malaria, diarrhea, and acute respiratory infections. We had also set up a referral system for patients requiring hospital treatment.