DR. SEKOU M.
Founder & President:
Guinea Development Foundation
DR. SEKOU M.
SYLLA & THE GUINEA DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATIONS
Michael Sylla, M.D., MPH Personal Background Place of Birth
Republic of Guinea, West Africa. Permanent resident, USA.
Languages French, English, Africa languages Travel
Experience Central, East, West and North Africa; Lebanon;
Israel; Europe; West Indies, Bahamas, Puerto Rico; USA and
Canada. Professional Experience 1988 - present President,
Guinea Development Foundation. Created and currently directs
this nonprofit organization whose mission is to assist in
the social and economic development of the country. The
Board of Directors of the GDF is comprised of distinguished
representatives from the fields of business, industry,
health and government service. One of the GDF's primary
goals is to improve the quality and delivery of health care
servcies to underserved areas. 1991 - 1992 Research
Associate and Consultant Community Health Center for
HIV/AIDS Education School of Public Health, Columbia
University 1979 - 1988 President, American/African Medical
and Surgical Supplies,Inc. a company providing health care
in African countries 1978 - 1979 Surgical Assistant, St.
Clare's Hospital, New York, NY Assisted the late Dr. Michael
Jordam, Professor and Director, Obstetrics-Gynecology
Service. 1978 Physician with New York Board of Health
Directed three nurses in Federal lead poisoning control
program 1976 - 1978 Assistant to the Director, Associated
Mission Medical Office (AMMO), Division of Overseas
Ministries, National Council of Churches, New York, NY.
Investigated and prepared reports on nutrition, tropical
virues and filarial infections in Africa. 1974 - 1976
Research Associate, St. Luke's Hospital Medical Center, New
York Assisted Director of the Division of Metabolism and
Nutrition; researched metabolic diseases and
nutritional-related disorders in vitro. 1971 - 1973
Emergency Room Physician, Matte-Garde, Paris, France
Physician in charge of patients in private and government
hospitals Medical Interships, Research Fellowships and
Assistantships 1989 - 1991 Graduate Research Assistant,
Columbia University College of Pysicians and Surgeons,
School of Public Health, Division of Tropical Medicine. 1989
- 1990 Research Fellow, Sickle Cell Anemia, Albert Einstein
College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, Department of
Medicine, Division of Hematology. 1970 - 1971 Hospital
Kremlin-Bicetre, Seine, France. Special training in
intensive care unit in General Medicine. Received special
certificate in ICU. 1968 - 1971 Internships in Paris, France
and Oxford, England. Certificates in Obstetrics-Gynecology.
Surgical training in both countries. Education Masters of
Public Health, Columbia University of Public Health,
Division of Tropical Medicine, 1992. M.D., Faculty of
Medicine, Parid Sud, France, 1970. Graduated with honors.
Faculty of Sciences, Censier, Paris France, 1963.
Certificate in Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Medical
Licenses and Other Certification New York State permanent
license in all areas of laboratory research, specifically
involving nutrution, metabolism, in vitro. Temporary M. D.
license in Medicine and Surgery in the State of Connecticut.
Since April 1984, the government of Guinea has
undertaken a fundamental transformation of its national
institutions and its socio-economic structures. As a part of
this new effort, the Guinea Development Foundation was
established by a group of Guinean nationals, supported by
friends of Guinea throughout the world.
Health conditions in the Republic of Guinea are
among the poorest in the world as classified in 1993 by the
UNDP. Its population of approximately eight million people
have a life expectancy at birth of only 39 years, while the
average in sub-saharan Africa is over 50. The infant
mortality rate is 155 per thousand live births and the
mortality rate for children under age 5 is 44 per thousand.
This figure represents 50 percent of all deaths in the
country. In addition, maternal mortality is also high at 8
per thousand pregnancies and a crude birth rate of 45 per
In the industrialized world, having a family member
seriously ill or handicapped is the exception rather than
the rule. In the tropics, however, disease is a way of life.
Everyday Guineans contend with the illnesses found all over
the world, such as pneumonia, bronchitis, cancer, heart
disease, AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections; as
well as the many fatal and debilitating diseases that are
predominately found in the tropics. Respiratory diseases,
malaria, diarrhea, onchocerciasis, leprosy and other
preventable and treatable ailments such as measles,
tuberculosis, pertussis, poliomyelitis and tetanus account
for three quarters of reported cases of morbidity. In both
rural and urban regions, the inaccessibility to potable
water and poor sanitation are the primary causes of
parasitic and endemic diseases, especially among children
under the age of five.
These figures are dramatically disparate from those
of the United States in which the infant mortality rate is
approximately 9.8 per thousand and the life expectancy is
over 75 years.
The Guinean Ministry of Health and Population has
made numerous attempts to improve the overall administration
of the country's health care system. Limited resources and
increasing demands, however, consistently disrupt
distribution of health care services and often favor urban
centers at the expense of rural areas. In Guinea over 73
percent of the population live in areas inaccessible to
health care services provided in urban centers. In addition
to being underserved, Guinea's rural population is largely
illiterate. This adds to the challenge of reaching these
The Republic of Guinea has an area of 94,926 square
miles-over twice the size of Pennsylvania-with a population
of about 8,000,000. Despite the fact that the Republic of
Guinea is endowed with rich natural resources, such as
bauxite, iron ore, diamond, gold, uranium, cobalt, oil and
gas, etc... it has been classified by the United Nations
Development Program (UNDP) as the least developed country in
The Guinea Development Foundation, is a non-profit
501 (c) (3) corporation which seeks to improve the nation's
preventative, primary and emergency health care services and
to develop sustainable plans for the delivery of such
service, with particular emphasis on Guinea's under-served,
Since its inception in 1988, The Guinea Development
Foundation has dedicated itself to the social and economic
progress of Guinea. Recognizing the important relationship
between good health and national progress, the Foundation
has sought the cooperation of individuals and organizations
in the promotion of modern health care services in the rural
sectors where the needs are greatest. Its program for action
1. Education of rural populations in basic
preventive measures related to health.
2. Establishment of rural treatment and inoculation
3. Adaptation of successful health care programs
from other countries to local conditions.
4. Training of local health care providers.
5. AIDS education and prevention.
Plan: Boffa Health Center
Aims and Objectives
With the assistance of both
private and public donors, the Guinea Development Foundation
seeks to join the common efforts to assist every Guinean
citizen to gain access to quality medical care through an
improvement in the quality of the nation's preventive,
primary, emergency, and all other health care services.
Our objectives will be
implemented through an existing pyramidal organization
structure that is characteristic of the nation's health
services system. Program implementation will begin by first
targeting primary health care clinics in rural settings.
Generally, these clinics provide the first line of treatment
for the population in the rural areas of the country.
Approximately 75 to 85% of the health care needs of these
rural settings are managed by these local hospitals and
clinics. Given the large portion of the population that
these treatment centers see on a regular basis, our plans
for the development of Guinea's health care infrastructure
quite logically begin with them.
We plan simultaneously to
improve the quality of care offered through regional medical
posts, subprefectorial centers, and prefecturial hospitals,
all of which provide more specialized treatment facilities.
Finally, at the highest levels of Guinea's system of health
care, we will be offering programs to the regional hospitals
and the capital's two university hospitals.
Paralleling this main
thrust, the Foundation also seeks to create a number of
different projects within non governmental organizations
(including various community living centers). Our goal is to
stimulate development of projects in the private sector that
will eventually become self-supporting and that will test
new ideas for increasing access to health care services for
the creation of new public services.
These pilot projects will
provide us with an opportunity to test a variety of health
promotion and disease prevention strategies. We are
particularly interested, for example, in social marketing
strategies which, if successful, would provide us with the
ability to produce effective health education programs. In a
nation with a quite low literacy rate, we hope to create a
wide variety of materials using new technologies such as
video, but also incorporating standard approaches using
pamphlets and brochures (published in all native tongues as
well as in picture format).
Evaluation of these
efforts will be undertaken by experts from the Columbia
University School of Public Health (New York), the Morehouse
School of Medicine (Atlanta), and other international
Starting with the Boffa
area of Guinea (a region consisting of 231 villages, which
currently have limited or no health care services) we plan
to expand these services to all areas of the country.
Who will benefit from the
program and how
The program we envision will be targeted to the general
population, but with particular focus on women of child
bearing age, children, senior citizens, and the handicapped.
They will benefit as a
result of improved education, changes in health behavior
patterns, and increased access to health services. If
successful, these efforts will result in reduced rates of
infant and maternal mortality and morbidity, and lower
incidence of malaria, childhood diseases, and diarrhoeal and
Statistical breakdown of
As noted previously, there are approximately 142,000 people
to 146,000 within the 231 villages we hope to serve. Of that
number, approximately 85% will directly benefit from this
program i.e. approximately:
(a) 35,000 to 45,000 men;
(b) 35,500 to 49,000 women;
(c) 40,000 to48,000 children;
(d) 2,000-3,000 the handicapped;
(e) 10,000-25,000 senior citizens
Statistical breakdown of
It is impossible to give a precise breakdown of the indirect
beneficiaries. These will include people in surrounding
regions who hear about the program and who attempt to
imitate its successes. We have become convinced that we will
be filling a health care vacuum whose existence is well
understood by the region's inhabitants. Without adequate
census data we are unable to project with great accuracy how
many inhabitants will ultimately be served, however, we are
convinced that given the immense needs of this population
that we will quite probably be in a position to serve the
vast majority of the region's population.