Since independence in 1974, the country has been subjected to considerable military and political upheaval. The country is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world. In 2016, continuing political instability further weakened its crumbling health system.
Endemic poverty, limited access to education, safe drinking water and sanitation, and a health care system in need of reform, have lead to massive issues in maternal and child health, as well as sexual and reproductive health. Médecins Sans Frontières first worked in Guinea-Bissau in 1998.