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Providing Pediatric Care in Guinea-Bissau

29 May 2016

Since gaining independence in 1974, Guinea-Bissau has experienced five coups, the most recent in 2012. Health indicators reflect this political instability, and life expectancy at birth is only 49 years old. Photo: Ramón Pereiro/MSF

With an infant mortality rate of 116 deaths per 1,000 children, Guinea-Bissau is among the 10 countries with the worst indicators of maternal and infant health in the world. Photo: Ramón Pereiro/MSF

To improve medical care and help reduce the mortality rate among children under five years old, MSF is working in the pediatric department of the Bafatá regional hospital, where more than 180,000 people live. Photo: Ramón Pereiro/MSF

“Any sick child faces major difficulties...long distances, lack of qualified personnel, lack of medicines, uncertain diagnoses, and the high cost of medical consultations,” explains Isabel Grovas. Photo: Ramón Pereiro/MSF

In Bafatá, the number of pediatric consultations has increased exponentially. In February 2014, only 10 children were treated at the hospital, while in February 2015 the number of children increased to 100. Photo: Ramón Pereiro/MSF

MSF is also working in the health centers in Tantan Cossé and Contuboel, training health professionals to improve the quality of diagnosis and treatment, and ensuring that the necessary medical equipment is available. Photo: Ramón Pereiro/MSF

The MSF teams work with the community to ensure that mothers and their families trust the public health system, and know when they should take their children to pediatric consultations. Photo: Ramón Pereiro/MSF

MSF is training 200 community health agents to work in the more remote areas of the Bafatá region. They are the first people to see the sick children and can advise them to be transferred to the health center or hospital if necessary. Photo: Ramón Pereiro/MSF

Located in West Africa, Guinea-Bissau is at the bottom of the world development index.

The country ranks 188th of 198 countries in the United Nations 2014 Human Development Report, and has an infant mortality rate of 116 per 1,000 children, which puts Guinea-Bissau among the 10 countries with the worst maternal and child health indicators in the world.

In November 2014, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) launched a pediatric project in the region of Bafatá in central Guinea-Bissau to provide affordable and effective health care for children.

By working with mothers, ensuring that necessary medical equipment is available, and training 200 members of the community, MSF and Medical Coordinator Isabel Grovas hope to improve health conditions for mothers and children.