Read more about our recent response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa

Country History

Much of Guinea-Bissau’s history after gaining independence from Portugal in 1974 is defined by political unrest and upheaval. In 1998, the country broke out into civil war that ousted long-term authoritarian leader Joao Bernando Vieira and led to a transitional government that put opposition leader Kumba Yala in power. He was overthrown just three years later in a bloodless coup. In 2005, Vieira was reelected and subsequently assassinated four years later. Today, the country is led by Jose Mario Vaz, who won elections in 2014. While no known Ebola cases have touched Guinea-Bissau, the country is at high-risk of an Ebola outbreak, as it shares a highly porous land border with Guinea and its islands are regularly visited by fishermen from countries with confirmed Ebola cases.


Drawing on our experience responding to and preventing Ebola in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea, International Medical Corps started working in Guinea-Bissau in April 2015 to help the national health system prepare to quickly and safely respond to and contain an Ebola outbreak. We teach clinical and non-clinical staff about the symptoms of the virus and train them in basic patient isolation, Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) practices, and safety protocols. We are also helping form Rapid Response Teams that are equipped with the knowledge and tools to immediately investigate suspected cases and, if needed, isolate, test, and refer patients for further care.


  • Population

    1.8 Million

  • age

    Median Age
    19.9 Years

  • life

    Life Expectancy
    50.23 Years

  • life

    Fertility Rate
    4.23 children per mother

  • Infant Mortality Rate

    Infant Mortality Rate
    87.21 deaths/1,000 live births


  • Emergency Response and Preparedness

  • Family and Community Health

  • Health Services Support

  • Water, Sanitation and Hygiene


Ebola Case Management Training and Preparedness

While providing direct treatment for Ebola patients in five facilities in Sierra Leone and Liberia, International Medical Corps developed a training program known as the Multi-Agency Training Collaborative (MATCO) that harmonized best practices from Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), the World Health Organization, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Guinea-Bissau, we organize and conduct the week-long trainings for clinical staff and other relevant professionals. The program covers Ebola case management, safe patient transport, infection prevention and control, proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and psychosocial support. We also created a mock Ebola Treatment Unit on the grounds of the National Public Health Institute in the capital, Bissau for an opportunity for professionals to practice what they learn in the classroom.

Rapid Response Team

International Medical Corps is working to form five Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) in five regions of Guinea-Bissau that can quickly and safely act to any suspected Ebola cases. Composed of doctors, nurses, hygienists, and social workers, the RRTs are trained to investigate reports of potential Ebola cases, set up isolation facilities, and, if needed, provide referrals for testing and treatment. For Guinea-Bissau, this capacity is vital for staying prepared for a suspected or confirmed outbreak of Ebola and can also be applied to identifying and managing other infectious diseases with epidemic potential, such as cholera. In Gabu and Tombali, regions along the border with Guinea, International Medical Corps also trained staff from 37 health care facilities in recognizing symptoms of Ebola and equipping them with the knowledge to handle and refer any potential cases of Ebola they encounter.

Infection Prevention Control

International Medical Corps is also supporting the National Public Health Institute in implementing IPC protocols nationwide. The program uses training-of-trainers format to reach health staff in five regions: Gabu, Tombali, Bafata, Bijagos, and Bissau. Thirty government health workers from these regions receive training on learner-centered training methods and technical aspects of IPC protocols. Once trained, they act as IPC mentors in training staff of health facilities in their regions to use proper IPC measures in their day-to-day routines.


Guinea-Bissau Capabilities Statement

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