Why are we there?
- Armed conflict
- Endemic/epidemic disease
- Social violence/heathcare exclusion
- Guinea: André protects his community against malaria
- West Africa: cholera surges in Sierra Leone and Guinea
- Guinea: New vaccince saves 117,000 from cholera
An inefficient drug supply system, unevenly distributed facilities and a shortage of medicines and equipment are major challenges currently facing Guinea’s national health service.
Guinea’s national HIV programme is unable to secure sufficient funding and is barely functional. The government’s decision in 2007 to supply free antiretroviral (ARV) treatment has not been implemented.
Patients are still asked to pay for drugs, laboratory tests and medical follow-up. As many patients cannot afford to pay, they cannot get the care they need.
Although the prevalence of HIV is low in comparison with many other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the lack of investment in care and the stigmatisation and discrimination that patients with the disease encounter mean that HIV is a significant problem.
At the end of 2011, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) was providing ARV treatment to 7,440 people in Conakry, the capital, and Guéckédou, in the south.
MSF supports HIV care in five health centres in the Matam district of Conakry, with an emphasis on paediatric HIV and prevention of mother-to-child transmission.
Mother and child health
Since 2009, MSF has been operating a mother and child programme in Matam, in collaboration with the national health authorities. The district is home to 242,000 people, including an estimated 43,600 children under five.
The objective is to improve the quality of healthcare and to make it more accessible, particularly for those most vulnerable to illness.
Sixty-five health workers raise awareness about health issues within the community, encouraging pregnant women to visit a health centre for antenatal care and to make sure their youngest children get the medical assistance they need.
In 2011, MSF carried out more than 47,000 paediatric and maternal health consultations in three health centres.
Malaria is hyperendemic in Guinea, meaning that incidence is high and continuous throughout the year. It is the main reason for hospital admissions in the country, and transmission peaks during the rainy season, between April and November.
In June 2010, MSF launched a malaria programme with the aim of decreasing transmission and improving treatment for people in Guéckédou.
An MSF team offers expertise to 16 public health facilities (one hospital, six health centres and nine clinics), and in addition, trains Ministry of Health medical staff. The team has also trained some 45 community health workers from the region to diagnose and treat simple cases of malaria in their villages.
In 2011, MSF treated more than 55,000 patients for the disease.
At the end of 2011, MSF had 283 staff in Guinea. MSF has worked in the country since 1984.
“I am a 36-year-old woman, and it was in 2009 that I found out about my HIV status. I was very troubled by the news, which almost pushed me to suicide. I was discriminated against and stigmatised.
“I ended up being referred to the health centre in Matam, the centre of MSF’s programme in Conakry. I had a check-up and I weighed only 42 kg. I felt I was accepted and listened to, especially by the psychosocial team, who gave me a lot of information about HIV/AIDS – and the ARV treatment is free.
“After six months I weighed 82 kg. Not long after, I was recruited by MSF as an ‘expert patient’ to help others with the disease. Today, I feel positive about my life.”