Guinea: Refugee crisis in Parrot's Beak

© Robert Knoth Click on image for full size People make their way through the Guinean bush from the refugee camp in Boudou, inside Parrot's Beak, to one in Katkama.
MSF has been working with refugees in the country for many years and as of summer 2000 was offering medical care and water and sanitation assistance in five camps. At the onset of the crisis, MSF added aid programs in a transit facility in the capital, Conakry (later moved to Mambiya), and a new camp set up in Dabola as well as periodic assistance at numerous other camps - and also pushed for the transfer of the refugees to a safer area. See box (next page) for more on this crisis. Over the last year, MSF also responded to a yellow fever epidemic in Guinea, while continuing regular programs and starting several new projects. Yellow fever sweeps the country In late 2000, an outbreak of yellow fever, a mosquito-borne viral disease with a mortality rate of 80% when untreated, threatened several million people in Guinea. MSF quickly reinforced its staff, bringing in 20 additional people to combat the epidemic. Teams vaccinated between 10,000 and 15,000 people each day, eventually reaching over 1.5 million people. Yet it became clear at the peak of the crisis that world stocks of yellow fever vaccine ran 1.5 million doses short of what was needed to provide complete vaccination coverage. Click on image for full size A
MSF brought attention to this shortfall and called on the World Health Organization (WHO) to order additional vaccine stocks from the pharmaceutical companies, which only produce the vaccine when requested by WHO or other international agencies. Ongoing care for the Guinean population Over the last year, MSF launched two projects in Guinea. A pilot rural health care program began in mid-2000 in Konkouré. MSF has trained traditional birth attendants who, by mid-spring 2001, delivered nearly 200 babies. In early 2001, MSF began training local community members to work with street children in Conakry and opened a drop-in center in a busy market area where these children can play, take a shower, and drink clean water. MSF continues to assist the Guinean association Fraternité Médicale Guinée with its clinic in Conakry, and works in other clinics in the city. A tuberculosis control program, begun in 1990, covers a population of over two million people in and around Conakry. In January 2001, the program was extended to cover the entire Moyenne Guinea region. MSF began working in Guinea in 1984. International staff: 25 National staff: 160