Sightsavers in Guinea-Bissau

We’re working with Guinea-Bissau’s ministry of health to deliver vital charity work that protects people from neglected tropical diseases.

Located in West Africa on the Atlantic coast, Guinea-Bissau is a small country with a sparsely populated archipelago called the Bijagos Islands.

The health care system in Guinea-Bissau is underfunded and lacks essential resources, including qualified medical staff. Health services are concentrated in the capital, Bissau, leaving many people in rural areas without medical care. Poor access to safe drinking water, limited electricity and ongoing political instability have hampered progress towards universal health coverage.

Five neglected tropical diseases are prevalent in Guinea-Bissau. Sightsavers is working with the country’s ministry of health to control the spread of these diseases by distributing medication and promoting cleanliness, as well as organising health screenings in remote villages.

Protecting people from disease enables communities to return to fertile agricultural land close to rivers, which they may have left because of the risk of infection. This ensures they can earn an income from farming. Our work also helps to avoid children missing school because of severe medical conditions or to care for sick relatives, enabling them to continue their education.

Guinea-Bissau facts

  • Population: 2 million
  • Capital: Bissau
  • Official language: Portuguese
  • Human development index (HDI) ranking: 177 (low)
A white and yellow icon representing an eye with cataracts. The pupil and iris are covered with dashed yellow lines.

180,000 people in Guinea-Bissau are thought to have sight loss

In 2012, there were only 3 ophthalmologists in the country

A white and yellow icon of a small bottle of medicine, with one round tablet leaning on its side.

1.9 million people in the country need treatment for lymphatic filariasis


Young man wearing face mask and sunglasses on boat

“We’re close to eliminating trachoma in Guinea-Bissau, but there’s still work to be done on the Bijagos Islands.”

Young man wearing face mask and sunglasses on boat
Iliezer Gomes Bidjonquer, Sightsavers programme officer Watch his video diaries from the Bijagos Islands

How you can help

Our charity work in Guinea-Bissau is helping to protect communities from diseases, but there’s still more we need to do to reach everyone.

With your support, we want to expand our treatment campaigns to other areas of the country where neglected tropical diseases are endemic and help improve public health services so everyone can access medical care. To do this, we need your help.

Charity donations, legacies, corporate partnerships and gifts from charitable foundations are a vital source of funding for our work in Guinea-Bissau. We also welcome opportunities to work in partnership with governments, institutions and development organisations.

Contact us: If you have questions about our work in Guinea-Bissau, would like details about our programmes or wish to discuss ways to donate or support us, email [email protected]

Latest stories from west Africa

Sightsavers' Laurene Lerclercq.
Sightsavers blog

How we’re transforming political participation in Cameroon and Senegal

Sightsavers’ Laurène Leclercq shares successes from an award-winning project in Cameroon and Senegal that’s supporting people with disabilities to participate in all aspects of political life.

Laurène Leclercq, March 2023
During a press interview in Senegal, a man faces a video camera while speaking into a microphone. Three fellow event attendees are standing behind him.

Senegal launches action plan to collect high-quality inclusive data

The initiative outlines the steps needed to ensure that people with disabilities are represented in official data, which will inform the government’s planning and monitoring.

December 2022
A young boy drinks water after receiving preventative medication for lymphatic filariasis in Guinea-Bissau.

Sightsavers awarded grant to fight neglected tropical diseases in Guinea-Bissau

The Astellas Global Health Foundation is giving US$536,700 to help combat river blindness, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis and intestinal worms.

December 2022
A woman sits talking on a mobile phone.

Sightsavers wins Zero Project award for work on political participation

The prize was awarded for our inclusion project which promotes the rights of people with disabilities to participate in civic and political life in Cameroon and Senegal.

December 2022
A woman with crutches walks into a building.
Sightsavers Reports

We are… promoting inclusive elections

We’re working with partners in Cameroon and Senegal to ensure people with disabilities are able to take part in every stage of the political process.

A boy with crutches sits with his friends in the playground during lunch break at school in Senegal.
Sightsavers Reports

In Senegal, we’re ensuring all children are able to go to school

Every child deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential. Your donations are helping to train teachers so they can welcome children with visual impairments and other disabilities into the classroom.

Discover where Sightsavers works in Africa and Asia

Where we work