The Problem

  • Vitamin A deficiency is a widespread problem in Guinea. Every year, vitamin A deficiency contributes to an estimated 9% of child deaths and 13% of maternal deaths; vitamin A supplementation could save the lives of 26,000 children under the age of 5 in the next 10 years at a cost of just $1.00 per child per year.
  • Thirty five percent of children under 5 in Guinea are chronically malnourished, and 9% suffer from acute malnutrition.
  • Anemia during pregnancy is also prevalent in Guinea, contributing to an estimated 18% of maternal deaths and 23% of perinatal deaths; survey results indicated that 70% of pregnant women and 75% of children under 5 years old are anemic in Guinea.
  • Onchocerciasis remains endemic in almost 70% of communities.

What HKI Is Doing

Helen Keller International has been working in Guinea since 2000. 

Our current programs include:

Vitamin A Supplementation
Helen Keller International supports the government and partner organizations in institutionalizing micronutrient supplementation through biannual vitamin A distribution to children 6-59 months old. HKI worked in collaboration with UNICEF to assist the Ministry of Health (MoH) prepare guidelines for routine vitamin A supplementation, and developed training curricula and implemented training for the MoH and other NGO staff on vitamin A and other key micronutrients. In 2008, HKI and program partners reached over 90% of children, over 1.3 million, under five years of age with vitamin A.

A major improvement in this program is integrating de-worming treatment into the vitamin A supplementation campaign.  More than 90% of children between the ages of 1 and 5 received the drug mebendazole in addition to vitamin A which contributes even more to their overall health.

Back to top

Anemia Control
In collaboration with Africare and the Ministry of Health, Helen Keller International designed and tested an innovative nutritional support program for pregnant women that includes prenatal care and an integrated package of anemia control services at the community level. As a result of the program, anemia rates of participants have fallen to half of the rates of non-participants, and half as many children born of participating mothers suffer from low birth weight. This approach was scaled up to additional regions of Guinea through innovative partnerships with existing projects, NGOs and government agents. To date, the approach has been implemented in 88 sites, and over 5,000 women have participated.

Back to top

Food Fortification
Helen Keller International is a leader in catalyzing food fortification projects in West Africa and is a founding member of the National Food Fortification Alliance in Guinea. Since HKI helped launch a national wheat flour fortification program in August 2005, over 70,000 tons of wheat flour have been fortified with iron folate and B vitamins, representing over 150 million loaves of bread, which have fed hundreds of thousands of local families.  In 2006, legislation was enacted requiring all wheat flour sold in the country to be fortified with iron and B vitamins, and in 2007 the national legislation was launched with a national workshop, advocacy efforts, communication campaigns, rapid market assessments and integrated monitoring and evaluation efforts.

Back to top

Onchocerciasis Control
In partnership with the National Onchocerciasis Control Program, HKI developed the communication materials used by community volunteers to distribute the drug Mectizan® (ivermectin) donated by Merck & Co., Inc. to control blinding onchocerciasis.

Back to top

Nutritional Surveillance
Since 2007 with support of USAID, HKI has provided technical assistance to introduce a simplified surveillance system in the West African country of Guinea. The “Suivi des Enfants, Femmes et Familles en Alimentation-Nutrition” (Tracking of Children, Women and Families in Food and Nutrition - SEFFAN) is a simple community-based nutrition and food security surveillance system.  The purpose is to gather and analyze nutrition and food security information and to disseminate the results to donors and humanitarian agencies. The data collected provides timely information and enables a rapid response in the event a nutritional crisis emerges.

Back to top