Guinea: Minimal government in a turbulent region

  • International staff: 12
  • National staff: 252

    Guinea has been a refuge for over a decade to those fleeing violent conflicts in neighboring Sierra Leone and Liberia. Guinea itself has not been immune to turmoil and has experienced the economic fallout of the region's conflicts. The country's health system suffers from poverty, shortages of supplies and a lack of management.

    Working in six refugee camps, MSF helps about 75,000 Sierra Leonean and Liberian refugees. After a fragile peace accord was brokered in Sierra Leone in mid-1999, the UNHCR encouraged repatriation of some of the refugees - a move which MSF vigorously opposed because it wasn't clear whether the refugees wanted to go home, nor whether they would be safe.

    The renewal of civil war in Sierra Leone this spring put a stop to that plan. MSF medical and water and sanitation assistance in the camps continues.

    An urban initiative takes shape in Conakry

    In spring 2000, MSF started an urban health program in the capital, Conakry, whose main goal is to support a local NGO, FMG (Fraternité Médicale Guinée). This project, undertaken with the Belgian organization Songes, is designed to build FMG's capacity to implement sustainable urban health care projects. MSF is also looking at working with some of the city's street children.

    Songes is focusing on improving FMG's structure and organization. MSF, on the other hand, is concentrating its work in one of the several clinics that FMG runs in the city. The emphasis is on promoting good hygiene and cleanliness, providing medicine, developing treatment protocols and encouraging community participation in running the health center. Ideally, work in the clinic will be adopted by FMG and transferred to the organization's other clinics in Conakry.

    Fighting measles and tuberculosis

    In March and April 2000, MSF vaccinated over 200,000 children in Conakry for measles. MSF also has a tuberculosis (TB) program in the city and has been working in the areas of Mamou and Labé to improve TB treatment. The organization is preparing an extension of the TB program to the entire "Moyenne Guinée" region.

    MSF first intervened in Guinea in 1984.