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HIVAIDS in Equatorial GuineaEquatorial Guinea is a small country in central Africa with a population of just over 1,700,000 people. Although it is a small nation, it has been heavily impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. As of 2022, about 7% of the adult population aged 15-49 had contracted the disease, which is about 66,000 individuals. Only about 51% of adults are aware of their status as HIV positive. Furthermore, it is estimated that around 3,600 children in the country are living with HIV. Since 2010, the number of new cases of HIV/AIDS in Equatorial Guinea and deaths from the disease has been steadily increasing from around 1,600 deaths in 2010 to 2,300 deaths from the virus in 2021. Much of the country’s issues with the virus can be attributed to low government spending on education and health care, with only 3.8% of GDP going towards health care. 

Treatment

In recent years, the main treatment for HIV/AIDS in Equatorial Guinea has been ART, which stands for antiretroviral therapy. This involves patients taking a combination of medicines that help prevent HIV from replicating in the body. This allows for CD4 cells to replenish, which helps fight infection in the immune system. About 41% of those living with the disease in Equatorial Guinea were receiving some type of ART treatment, showing that the country has a ways to go to ensure all citizens infected with the virus receive treatment. Furthermore, just 42% of pregnant women are receiving this treatment. This is especially alarming as pregnant women can pass on HIV/AIDS to their children through birth or through breastfeeding. Helping pregnant women become untransmissible could be one of the best ways to stop the spread of the virus. One becomes non-transmissible through the use of medications and treatments such as ART.

Action Being Taken

In 2014, then President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang, met with the UNAIDS Executive Director to discuss ways forward in combating HIV/AIDS in Equatorial Guinea. They discussed how, in recent years, Equatorial Guinea has opened new treatment centers that provide care for citizens with the disease. This has allowed the nation to reduce the number of mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS. From 2011 to 2014, pregnant women’s access to ART treatments increased by 13%. Teodoro Obiang promised to work with UNAIDS to help end the epidemic in his country by 2030. While this meeting was promising, little has been said by the Equatorial Guinea government in several years on their current policy on HIV/AIDS and any action being taken. 

Outside organizations are also working to fight against HIV/AIDS in Equatorial Guinea. One of these is the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). In November of 2022, the organization partnered with the NGO SOS Children’s Villages met with several schools and youth centers near Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea. During these meetings, UNFPA educated the youth on stigmatized topics such as HIV, AIDS, STIs and teen pregnancy and distributed informational materials such as brochures. It is the hope of UNFPA that greater education around these issues will help reduce cases of HIV and AIDS. 

Looking Ahead

Currently, many individuals are battling HIV/AIDS in Equatorial Guinea. However, with renewed commitment taken by the government in terms of increased access to treatment for civilians, it is entirely possible that the population can bounce back from this epidemic and drastically reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS.

– Emma Glas 
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in Equatorial GuineaIn the small Central African nation of Equatorial Guinea, the healthcare system is lacking in many ways. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, “45 other countries in Equatorial Guinea’s per capita GDP range spent at least four times as much on health and education during the same period.” A study by the Pan African Medical Journal has reported a “lack of resources and trauma care facilities” and that  “training and informational programs for both healthcare workers and the general public may not be effectively transmitting information to the intended recipients.” Overall, it can be said that healthcare in Equatorial Guinea is in a dire state that certainly calls for assistance.

Things to Know About Healthcare in Equatorial Guinea

  1. Empty Promises. Following the discovery of oil in Equatorial Guinea in 1991, President Obiang promised investment in social services, primarily healthcare and education. Despite repeatedly saying he would prioritize those two services, financial allocation for funding has been disheartening. According to the World Bank, as of 2017, only 3.11% of the country’s GDP has been spent on healthcare, an increase since 2012, when it stood at 1.26%.
  2. Incorrect Priorities. Instead of allocating money towards improving its healthcare system, Equatorial Guinea has been investing in large infrastructure projects. In 2011, the country spent 82% of its total budget on such projects, a move that was heavily criticized by both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
  3. Treatable Diseases are Deadly. Lack of funding means healthcare in Equatorial Guinea lacks diagnostic tools, trained staff, laboratory supplies, vaccines, cheap medication and condoms. The lack of affordable medicine and resources results in patients being reluctant to seek care and also means the most common treatable diseases become the deadliest. According to the Pan African Medical Journal, diseases like malaria, typhoid, sexually transmitted diseases, diarrhea and respiratory illnesses are the most common diseases, but also have the highest rate of mortality.
  4. Underfunded Healthcare Sector. The lack of funding to the healthcare sector in Equatorial Guinea also acts as a deterrent for people to join the profession and causes many to leave, due to the lack of pay. Data indicates that Equatorial Guinea has only three doctors per 10,000 people. Furthermore, because patient payments are not enough to keep facilities running, many also leave due to the difficulties in their ability to provide care.
  5. Traditional and Modern Medicine Conflict. There is a conflict between traditional and modern medicine, which many healthcare practitioners consider a “negative healthcare outcome.” Indeed, the reluctance for many families to consult hospitals to receive care due to the high cost of medication may drive them to traditional medicine methods instead. Though this conflict has been noted before, not many steps have been taken to help mitigate the gap.

Despite the dire state of healthcare in Equatorial Guinea, research does not indicate that the country is receiving much help from aid organizations or other countries to improve the situation. This conclusion indicates a desperate need for aid to better the country’s healthcare system. With help, healthcare in Equatorial Guinea can be drastically improved.

Mathilde Venet
Photo: Flickr

10 facts about living conditions in equatorial guinea
Equatorial Guinea is a small nation on the west coast of Africa. While Equatorial Guinea is one of Africa’s largest oil producers it also faces many challenges associated with living conditions. Living conditions are poor, due to problems ranging from corrupt politics to low education rates. These 10 facts about living conditions in Equatorial Guinea shed light on the major issues the country faces.

10 Facts about Living Conditions in Equatorial Guinea

  1. The same president since 1979: Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has been in power for over 37 years and is currently the worlds longest running non-Royal head of state. Opposition to his office has cited the governments use of intimidation and irregular procedures to remain in power. When his son Teodorin was accused of laundering money by the French government, Mbasogo appointed Teodorin as Vice President and accused the French of violating draconian government laws. Some rights organizations have accused Mbasogo and his predecessors as some of the worst abusers of human rights in Africa.
  2. Highest per capita growth rate in Africa, one of the lowest Human Development Indexes: Equatorial Guinea makes most of its income through oil and is one of the highest oil producers in Sub- Saharan Africa. However, it ranks 141 out of 188 countries in the Human Development Index, its HDI currently is 0.591. The country’s per capita gross national income was $21,056 in 2014, giving Equatorial Guinea the biggest difference between per capita wealth and human development score in the world.
  3. Few basic services and malnutrition: In 2011 it was found that about half of Equatorial Guinea’s population had access to clean water. Twenty-Six percent of children suffered from malnutrition, and their growth was considered stunted. The country also has some of the lowest vaccinations in the world, with 25 percent of children unvaccinated.
  4. Low Education rates: Equatorial Guinea has some of the lowest education rates in the world, and even those in school do not remain for long. According to UNICEF, as of 2016, A staggering 42 percent of children do not attend primary school, making the country’s rates the seventh lowest in the world. To compound the issue, only half of the students in these primary schools finish or graduate.
  5. Agricultural Economy: Even though Equatorial Guinea makes most of its revenue through Petroleum, 71 percent of the population is agricultural. Some are subsistence farmers, who clear land by burning away other plant life in order to grow the crops that sustain them. Cocoa still remains a significant export, as it has been since before the country became an independent country in 1968.
  6. Large Youth Population: About 60 percent of the population of Equatorial Guinea is under the age of 25. Because of the pervasiveness of the oil-industry, job creation in other sectors of the economy is very limited.  Many young people are having trouble entering the market as they do not have the skills needed because of the low education rates in the country.
  7. Roads and Infrastructure: In the early 2000s,  less than a sixth of the roads in the country were paved. In some islands like Bioko, the systems are of a higher standard. Using tar as pavement, the city can better accommodate traffic. The country also does not benefit from a single railway or track. In the 1980s, multiple ports were modernized to accommodate the country’s increasing commerce.
  8. No Private Media: One of the most pressing of the 10 facts about living conditions in Equatorial Guinea is that all media outlets there are closely controlled by the government. There are no privately owned or independent papers or websites. As such, it is impossible to criticize the president or the security forces in the country. This, of course, makes it hard for word of Equatorial Guinea’s issues to reach other countries. However, it has been found the internet is being used for people to speak out against the government. The country had about 181,000 internet users out of its 1.2 million population.
  9. Plans to move forward: The World Bank’s presence in Equatorial Guinea has helped it move forward. The country’s economic plan, Horizon 2020, which will develop the country’s economic, national, and social standing, is being partly overseen by The World Bank. The Bank is providing technical services to strengthen the government’s public investment management systems. The first phase of Equatorial Guinea’s improvement plan was completed in 2012 and dubbed a success by the World Bank.
  10. No longer a “Least Developed Country”: In June of 2017, Guinea graduated from its status as an LDC or Least Developed country. Its national income is growing rapidly, and in recent years the infant mortality rate of the country has fallen by 43 percent.

Overall, there is hope on the horizon for Equatorial Guinea. Despite years of problems and issues, many which still remain, the country has seen improvement from many of its sectors. Most importantly, the country is now getting attention from multiple aid groups, who are doing what they can to improve conditions there. With support and attention, perhaps the worse of these 10 facts about living conditions in Equatorial Guinea can be nothing but history.

Owen Zinkweg
Photo: Flickr

Guinea
Equatorial Guinea is one of the largest oil producers in Africa, producing 186,000 barrels of oil per day and ranking 37 out of 98 countries in crude oil production.

Equatorial Guinea’s economy significantly improved after it struck oil in the mid-1990s; its gross domestic product skyrocketed from .254 to 8.663 within eight years. Despite the country’s inherent wealth, over 70 percent of its population lives below the national poverty lines.

The majority of oil money is spent on infrastructure in Equatorial Guinea, leaving little to no funds for health and education. According to the World Bank, Equatorial Guinea spends $80 out of every $100 in its budget on infrastructure and two to three dollars on health and education.

Infrastructure in Equatorial Guinea appears to be a driving force in the country’s political corruption. Human Rights Watch documented the ruling elite’s misdirected spending in a June 2017 report. The elite primarily benefits from the country’s oil wealth by owning stakes in companies that are awarded grossly inflated public infrastructure contracts.

A Parisian court convicted President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo’s son Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, who is also Equatorial Guinea’s vice president, of embezzling millions of euros from his government and laundering it in France. The court seized his assets in France, valued at more than $100 million, in late 2017.

In 2012, the US Department of Justice calculated that Mangue— with an annual salary of less than $100,000 USD— spent $315 million USD between 2004 and 2011. Mangue purchased luxury goods, cars and properties with the $315 million USD— nearly a third more than the Equatoguinean government’s annual spending on health and education combined in 2011.

Mangue exemplifies Equatorial Guinea’s political corruption and its misdirected spending of oil money, but his conviction demonstrates the power of law and accountability. Although infrastructure in Equatorial Guinea remains corrupted, Mangue’s conviction may initiate further investigations into the country’s budget.

– Carolyn Gibson
Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in Equatorial Guinea

The human rights in Equatorial Guinea are influenced significantly by a nearly omnipotent government. The per capita gross national income is $21,056, which, according to the Human Rights Watch, is the highest in Africa. Unfortunately, much of this is due to citizens who are loyal to President Teodore Obiang Nguema Mbasogo having most of the wealth, whereas the rest of the country is living in poverty.

According to the Human Rights Watch, 26% of all children have stunted growth. Nearly half of elementary school-aged children are not enrolled in school, and half of the ones who are do not finish. A ruling in July 2017 by the Minister of Education, which expels all pregnant students in an effort to discourage pregnancy, exacerbates the situation.

Human Rights Watch puts many of the violations of human rights in Equatorial Guinea on President Obiang, the president since 1979, and his government. He was recently reelected in April 2016, amid much controversy. Many citizens in opposition to Obiang boycotted the election, given the unlikeliness of his defeat. Those who came out in opposition to Obiang were arrested, sometimes en masse, and held in jail without charges for over one week. In the week before the election, for example, Obiang’s government targeted members of the opposition party, Citizens for Innovation. Even outside of the elections, those opposing the Obiang government are swiftly dealt with, usually under “disturbing the peace,” according to Amnesty International. One story involved police arresting two members of another opposition party for passing out leaflets.

Not only are opposition leaders persecuted by the government, but so are their families. An example of this involved the son and nephew of an opposition leader, whom, according to Amnesty International, the government arrested and held for nine months, only charging and convicting them for revealing state secrets at the end of their incarceration.

The government’s influence reaches beyond silencing its opposition. When President Obiang’s son Teodorin was charged with embezzlement by the French government, Obiang responded by making his son vice president and accusing France of violating his immunity.

In spite of the severe violations of human rights in Equatorial Guinea, many organizations have spoken out for government reform. According to the Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and six other organizations condemned the government for silencing opposition leaders.

The government is making an effort to improve how it treats the opposition party. In order to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Equatorial Guinea has to “refrain from actions which result in narrowing or restricting public debate in relation to implementation of the EITI.” In response to this, the government has allowed one of its opposition parties to resume business as of September 2016.

The government is a large complication when it comes to improving human rights in Equatorial Guinea, but there are small signs of improvement, which hopefully will continue into the future.

Cortney Rowe

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Equatorial Guinea
The small country of Equatorial Guinea lies on central Africa’s west coast. Equatorial Guinea is an upper-middle class income country with a Gross National Income (GNI) higher than most other African countries. Much of this is due to the country’s oil production. However, despite the affluence of Equatorial Guinea, it has a comparatively low human development index rating. The water quality in Equatorial Guinea ranks near that of a much poorer sub-Saharan country.

Human Rights Watch reports that, in 2011, up to $125 million dollars was supposed to be spent to improve the water quality in Equatorial Guinea. Instead, the country spent 50 percent of its budget (originally approved for $783 million, but later estimated at $1.5 billion) on urban infrastructure. $80 million was spent on sports, which is more than was first budgeted for that sector. Meanwhile, only $60 million was spent on potable water, education and health combined as of June 30, 2011—a mere three percent of the expenditures that year.

Water quality in Equatorial Guinea is very poor in terms of access. Fewer households in Equatorial Guinea have access to safe water than most other countries. In 2002, just 60 percent of schools had a reliable water source. Sanitation has also been a regular problem area in schools. As of 2009, only 43 percent of Equatorial Guinea’s population had a safe and reliable water source, and only 51 percent had access to proper sanitation.

By 2015, access to clean water had risen by just a few percentage points. Still, just over half of the population had adequate access to water.

The poor often pay the most for and have the least access to clean water. Limited access to clean water and sanitation increases the risk of widespread health issues, especially for young children. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.5 million children die from diarrhea each year worldwide. This figure is composed primarily of children that live in developing countries and are younger than five. Equatorial Guinea’s under-five mortality rate is 8.9 percent higher than the average for sub-Saharan Africa.

Water quality in Equatorial Guinea should be considerably better than it is. There is no larger gap between the Gross National Income and the human development index rating in any African country other than Equatorial Guinea. Spending large amounts of money on infrastructure can be helpful, but only if it benefits rural and urban citizens. The country should make the health of its citizens a higher priority and create a realistic and appropriate annual budget.

Emma Tennyson

Photo: Flickr

Equatorial Guinea's Poverty Rate
Despite being one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies and a major producer of oil, Equatorial Guinea’s poverty rate is high due to institutional weaknesses and corruption that restrict the country’s ability to provide basic services to its people.

With a population of approximately one million people, Equatorial Guinea ranks 138 out of 188 countries in the Human Development Index for social and economic development, despite a per capita gross national income of $21,056 in 2014, the highest in Africa.

Oil has been a source of economic growth in Equatorial Guinea for the past five years, but due to corruption under President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who uses oil revenues to fund the lifestyles of the elite, poverty persists. The government invests an imbalanced ratio between infrastructure and health and education.

While the African Union’s development model prioritizes spending on health and education, the government spends around $80 out of every $100 on infrastructure and only $2 to $3 each on health and education.

The African Union does not prioritize Equatorial Guinea in its efforts to eradicate poverty because of its oil wealth. However, nearly half of the country’s population lacks access to clean water. In 2011, 26% of children were malnourished, and one in four children did not receive vaccinations. In 2016, 42% of children were not registered in primary schools. Only half of children finish primary school, and less than 25% begin middle school.

In a recent Human Rights Watch interview, researcher Sarah Saadoun described the mismanagement and high-level corruption in Equatorial Guinea. Saadoun explained that the display of wealth by the president’s family and other officials next to such poverty shows a contrasting picture of a country’s poverty despite its obvious wealth.

“What we found—unequivocally—is that the government has violated its obligation to realize people’s right to health and education…and it is hampering the government’s ability to deliver education, health and clean water to Equatorial Guineans,” Saadoun stated.

Equatorial Guinea’s poverty rate cannot improve if the country does not tackle corruption from within and invest in its companies and resources and receive foreign investments. Unless new reserves are found, the country’s oil will run out by 2035. Equatorial Guinea can become prosperous through poverty reduction if it makes smart moves before an economic crisis ensues.

Sarah Dunlap

Photo: Flickr


Equatorial Guinea (GQ), a state situated along Africa’s west coast, boasts a population of approximately 760,000 people. HIV/AIDS, diarrhoeal diseases, and malaria are the three most fatal diseases in Africa. Similarly, the top three diseases in Equatorial Guinea are HIV/AIDS, malaria, and lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI).

According to the Central Intelligence Agency, approximately 4.8 percent of adults (about 27,400 people) had HIV/AIDS in 2015. LRTI is most commonly synonymous with pneumonia, but it can refer to bronchitis, bronchiolitis and influenza as well. Viruses, and in some instances bacteria, typically cause LRTI.

According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), a research institute that gathers global health statistics, the risk factors that drive the most disability and disease in Equatorial Guinea are child and maternal malnutrition, unsafe sex and air pollution. However, runner-up contributors include dietary risks, high fasting plasma glucose, high systolic blood pressure, high body mass index, alcohol and drug use, unsafe water, sanitation, handwashing and tobacco smoke.

Various programs have assisted in the fight against diseases in Equatorial Guinea. In 2004, a malaria control program was introduced on the island of Bioko, Equatorial Guinea. In 2007, the Equatorial Guinea Malaria Control Initiative (EGMCI) reintroduced a similar program in the four provinces on GQ’s mainland. Though it was smaller in scale because of funding limitations, the study demonstrated that vector control through insecticidal nets and the indoor residual spraying (IRS) of houses resulted in a decrease in the number of mosquitoes and greater protection from mosquitoes in a region.

Studies such as these are imperative to decreasing the number of malaria cases within GQ. Though the number of those infected has severely decreased in recent decades, GQ still has one of the highest malaria rates in the world.

Strategic thinking and pragmatic solutions are necessary for the fight against diseases in Equatorial Guinea.

Rebeca Ilisoi

Photo: Flickr

Horizon 2020The National Economic Development Plan: Horizon 2020 in Equatorial Guinea was launched in 2007 with the goal of overcoming social and economic challenges in the country. The initiative is divided into two phases beginning in 2008 and ending in 2020. The initial phase aims to produce a framework for economic development that would foster development for future generations fueled by the private sector, followed by consolidation within economic sectors.

The Embassy of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea outlined five key goals of the Horizon 2020 initiative: invest in strengthening economic growth, strengthen the development of structured investments, promote and strengthen the development of social policy actions, ensure a transparent social climate and develop the prospects for better monitoring and evaluation of poverty.

Secretary of state for Planning and Development, Hon César Mba Abogo, also cited the declaration of Article 8 in the country’s new constitution that emphasizes a commitment to abide by international laws as they are set forth, as well as the limitations on executive mandates.

Regardless of the restriction, significant amounts of oil revenue were discovered to be invested into private western and offshore bank accounts via an investigation conducted by the United States Senate, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs in 2004.

However, constraints on the growth of Equatorial Guinea’s economy have begun to arise in 2016 as a result of decreasing oil output and notably low crude oil prices. Human Rights Watch reported an increase of over 5,000 percent since the country struck oil in 1992.

As a part of the Horizon 2020 in Equatorial Guinea initiative, the government created the Social Development Fund that budgeted $1 billion for spending toward equality, transport, water, education, social welfare and housing infrastructure. Government programs to develop public governance and investment through mobilizing and educating human capital.

An emergency program, Holding Equatorial Guinea 2020, has already been launched as a conduit to foster growth in the economic sector, promote human rights, and secure good hiring and employment practices. The main aims of the initiative are founded in economic stability and the eradication of poverty and the success of such programs exemplify the potential outcome for Equatorial Guinea at the conclusion of the initiatives.

Amber Bailey
Photo: Flickr

Ebola VirusIn January, officials in Sierra Leone confirmed a new death from the Ebola virus in the country, days after Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea declared themselves Ebola-free.

According to NewsWeek, the World Health Organization (WHO) said last Thursday that “it was the first time all three West African countries had held the Ebola-free status simultaneously…effectively bringing to an end the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history that has claimed lives of some 11,300 people.”

The Ebola virus disease is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. It is transmitted to individuals from human to human transmission, or from wild animals. There are currently no licensed Ebola vaccines and the average EVD case fatality rate is around 50 percent, according to the WHO.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been the largest and most complex outbreak since the deadly disease was first discovered in the late 70’s.

Said the WHO, “The most severely affected countries, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, have very weak health systems, lack human and infrastructural resources, and have only recently emerged from long periods of conflict and instability.”

A test center in Sierra Leone announced that the tests on the patient who died a few days ago confirmed that his death was due to the deadly virus. To reduce further threats, Sierra Leone officials are currently investigating how the individual became infected and who may have been in contact with him.

The World Health Organization also emphasized that future flare-ups of the deadly virus are probable.

Bruce Aylward, the Ebola correspondent in the organization said that the “risk of re-introduction of infection is diminishing as the virus gradually clears from the survivor population, but we still anticipate more flare-ups and must be prepared for them.”

According to NewsWeek, recent investigations have found that the virus can remain in the male survivor’s semen for up to nine months. Hence, the WHO suggests Ebola survivors and their sexual partners abstain from sex or practice extremely safe sex.

“There is as yet no proven treatment available for EVD. However, a range of potential treatments including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies are currently being evaluated,” said the WHO. Additionally, two potential vaccines re undergoing human safety testing.

The World Health Organization suggests that in order to prevent and control this deadly threat, community engagement is the key to successfully control the outbreaks. “Raising awareness of risk factors for Ebola infection and protective measures that individuals can take is an effective way to reduce human transmission.”

Isabella Rolz

Sources: NewsWeek, World Health Organization
Photo: Bloomberg Business