Anthropometric data for children under five years of age indicate serious nutritional problems in Guinea. The rate of stunting is over 12% in all the regions, except "Guinée Forestière". According to WHO criteria, children are « seriously affected » by acute malnutrition; this situation is particularly worrying, as it has not improved over the past years. In addition, stunting, which indicates chronic malnutrition, is as high as 30% everywhere in the country except Conakry. Malnutrition is distributed in an unequal manner throughout the country, and is highest in rural areas.

Although less thoroughly documented, the nutritional status of adults also shows a great disparity between rural and urban areas. In rural areas, women have serious problems of underweight (24% of them have a BMI below 18.5 kg/m2 compared to 9% in urban areas), while the incidence of excess weight is more frequent in urban areas.

Endemic goiter in Guinea is certainly one of the most widespread in sub-Saharian Africa, representing a major problem for the country's public health. The overall rates of goitre stand at around 75% in all regions except Basse Guinée. An ongoing salt iodization programme to combat goiter was put in place throughout the country some years back.

As regards food consumption, an analysis of data gathered from a household expenditure survey shows that, in spite of adequate energy intake at the national level, there are significant disparities among some population groups. The lowest energy intake is found in the Conakry area (2,060 kcal/person/day), where some population groups are at great risk of inadequate food intake related to poverty problems specific to urbanization. This situation, already worrying, has deteriorated significantly over the past years. In addition, it has been observed that in Haute Guinée, a region with a Sudanese climate, protein and fat intakes are the lowest.

The causes of these high rates of malnutrition are many and complex, but poverty is most likely one of the principal ones. Other factors include low vaccination coverage, especially in rural areas. This latter is an indicator of limited access to health care, as is indeed confirmed by the high rate of infant mortality.

© FAO 2010