Despite an abundance of mineral wealth, Guinea's people are among the poorest in West Africa.
MSF in Guinea 2014
The country has rich deposits of bauxite, diamonds and gold, but due to political instability and a lack of infrastructure, little of this wealth reaches Guinea's population.
Ruled by strong-arm leaders for much of the time since its independence from France in 1958, Guinea has been seen as a bulwark against instability in neighbouring Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast. However it has also been implicated in the conflicts that have ravaged the region.
Along with Sierra Leone and Liberia, Guinea was pushed to the forefront of the world stage in 2014 as the devastating Ebola outbreak spiralled out of control - originating in Guinea itself.
MSF first began working in the country in 1984.
Fanta Oulen Camara and Ibrahim Savane who were among the first Ebola survivors to be discharged from MSF’s centre in Conakry, Guinea's capital.
“It was only amongst ourselves, when meeting other Ebola survivors, that we could feel totally comfortable, that we could have fun and enjoy life again.
"That’s when we decided to create an association of Ebola survivors so that we could have a place where we felt accepted.”
Mariano Lugli, coordinator of MSF's project in Conakry
“MSF has intervened in almost all reported Ebola outbreaks in recent years, but these outbreaks were much more geographically contained and involved more remote locations, as opposed to urban areas.
"The vast geographic spread of the Guinea outbreak is worrisome because it will greatly complicate the tasks of the organisations working to control the epidemic."
MSF’s work in Guinea: 2014
On 22 March, what was to become the largest recorded outbreak of Ebola was officially declared in Guinea.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was collaborating with the Guinean health ministry on a malaria-focused project in the hospital in Guéckédou and 20 community locations in Guinée Forestière when Ebola was suspected. On 18 March a reinforcement team with viral haemorrhagic fever specialists arrived in Guéckédou and started an exploratory intervention, supporting the health ministry.
Ebola management centre
Once the Ebola epidemic was declared, the malaria programme was put on hold as staff were reassigned to help the MSF emergency team build the first Ebola management centre (EMC) in Guéckédou. The malaria programme closed in August.
The EMC in Guéckédou opened on 23 March and served as the main centre for Ebola cases in the region, caring for patients, carrying out health promotion and outreach activities, and training medical and sanitation staff. A psychosocial team also worked at the EMC to support patients, and spent time with families and communities.
By the end of the year, 1,076 Ebola cases had been confirmed, and 430 patients had recovered and been discharged from the facility.
Reinforcing ebola activity
To reinforce the activities of the EMC, MSF opened a transit centre here, facilitating detection, triage and referral of patients coming from the southeast of Guinea. Psychological support was also provided. Between March and November, 520 patients were transferred to Guéckédou EMC
On 25 March, MSF opened an EMC within Donka hospital in Conakry, Guinea’s capital city. The team conducted health promotion, educational and outreach activities, including identification of possible patients with Ebola, provided psychosocial support and trained medical and sanitation staff. By the end of the year, 1,463 patients had been admitted; 594 of these were confirmed to have Ebola and 290 recovered.
Telimele district, 270 kilometres north of Conakry, was relatively far from the country’s Ebola epicentre in the southeastern forest region, but Ebola cases were reported in May. MSF teams were quick to respond, transforming one of the local health centre’s wings into an isolation area and building an EMC nearby which opened within days. By the end of July, Telimele was declared Ebola free.
Measles vaccinations in Conakry
In February 2014, MSF vaccinated more than 370,000 children aged between six months and 10 years against measles in the Conakry neighbourhoods of Matam, Ratoma and Matoto. At the end of the intervention the vaccination coverage was just over 87 per cent. Staff treated 2,948 cases of measles, 241 of which were severe.
Find out more in our 2014 International Activity Report.
At the end of 2014, MSF had 545 staff in Guinea. MSF began working in the country in 1984.