Population: 12 million
Languages: French, Susu, Fulani, Mandingo
Area: 94,926 mi²
Life expectancy: Male 58.2, female 59.8
Median age: 19 years
Literacy: 30.4% (total) 22.8% (women)
School life expectancy: 8 years for girls, 10 years for boys
Population below poverty line: 40.9% on less than $1.25 a day.
Top religions: Islam, Christianity, indigenous beliefs
Summary: Located on the coast of west Africa, Guinea is formally known as The Republic of Guinea. This tiny nation has substantial mineral deposits, which generate a significant portion of the nation’s wealth. However, Guinea still has one of the poorest populations in west Africa. Regional instability has limited economic growth, and contributed to religious and ethnic tensions. Guinea also struggles with an overwhelming refugee population from Liberia and Sierra Leone. (1)
The recent Ebola virus had a significant impact on the Republic of Guinea. 11,000 died and 28,000 were infected. Before the outbreak in 2014, Guinea had severely underdeveloped health resources. There were high levels of maternal and infant mortality. On average it spent 9$ per capital on health, and there were fewer than 3 health workers per 20,000. This is partly why the disease spread unchecked for several months before it was detected. Another reason the disease could spread freely was because health workers were so rare, rural populations actually distrusted and avoided them. During the beginning of the outbreak, some people believed that health workers were spreading the disease. Health workers who won past this distrust created local clinics in tents near affected villages. This encouraged transparency and trust. Even so, a military presence was required to ensure quarantine compliance and health workers’ safety. (1, 5,6,7,8,9)
The outbreak strained available health resources beyond their capacity, and the Guinean Ministry of Health is still trying to repair their health system. A silver lining, perhaps, is that the intervention of foreign health care workers helped identify specific areas of improvement for the Guinean healthcare system. President Conde also mobilized hundreds of newly graduated medical students to work with Ebola patients. These young health workers now have a stake in building their health care system to prevent a similar outbreak occurring again. The process of fighting Ebola- setting up hospitals, clinics, clinical trials, marshalling and training health care workers, etc. is believed to have laid the groundwork for additional development of the Guinean healthcare system. The long-term sustainability of this groundwork remains to be seen, as donations and funding have fallen dramatically since the end of the outbreak. (1, 5,6,7,8,9)
Colonized by the French in 1891, they secured independence in 1958. The first President, Ahmed Sekou Toure remains in power until his death in 1984, when he is replaced by President Lansana Conte. In 1990, a new constitution is adopted which permits civilian leaders. 1993 ushers in the first multiparty election, in which Conte is the victor. Despite insurrections, violence, and protests, Conte remains in power until his death in 2008, whereupon the military seized control of the government. These decades of violence had crippled the economy, healthcare system, and other national infrastructure. After the assassination of the military leader, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, there’s a gradual return to civillan rule. A contentious election in 2010 (which had to be run twice due to no clear victor) saw the eventual instatement of President Alpha Conde. Opposition supporters clashed with security forces and accused the president of rigging the presidential election and the parliamentary election. President Conde blamed the military government for emptying the nation’s treasury. In 2014 the international pandemic Ebola strikes, and spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. US President Barak Obama sent 3,000 military personel to build health facilities and train health workers. In 2015 President Conde wins a second term, despite accusations of irregularities. (1, 2) Ebola-related travel restrictions were lifted in 2016. (3)
Educational attainment and access to education has fluctuated over the past few decades. In general, due to high levels of poverty, and insufficient school facilities, educational resources, and low teacher-to-student ratios, Guinea has low national educational attainment. The recent ebola crisis had further destabilized fragile infastucre. Primary education is mandatory in Guinea, a policy which has increased primary school enrollment and attendance, however poverty still creates obstacles for higher education, and girls have a lower rate of primary school completion than boys. (10,11, 12, 13, 14)
A year past the ebola crisis, Guinea is still rebuilding their educational infrastructure, and it remains to be seen what post-ebola enrollment and graduation rates average out at. Before the ebole crisis, in 2012, 55% of girls and 68% of boys completed primary school. 32% of girls and 41% of boys advanced to secondary education. (10) On average, girls will spend 8 years in school, and boys will spend 10. (14)
Given the critical necessity of building their healthcare infrastructure and training the next generation of healthcare workers, experts hope that these needs will be reflected in increased resources being directed into education.