American Friends of Guinea Receives Grand Challenges Explorations Grant For Groundbreaking Research in Global Health and Development


Bel Cevallos, Director of Development

Tel: 832.456.8104   Fax: 832.300.2516


American Friends of Guinea

Receives Grand Challenges Explorations Grant

For Groundbreaking Research in Global Health and Development

Houston, TX – American Friends of Guinea (AFG) announced today that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Bebe Sylla, Program Director will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled “Short Message Service (SMS) and mobile laboratory technologies to improve the identification and response time to neglected tropical diseases (NTD) in Guinea”.

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) funds individuals worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges.  AFG’s project is one of over 50 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 10 grants announced by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

To receive funding, AFG and other Grand Challenges Explorations Round 10 winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of four critical global heath and development topic areas that included agriculture development, neglected tropical diseases and communications. Applications for the next Round will be accepted starting September 2013.

This grant will allow AFG to launch a participatory disease alert system, allowing community members throughout rural Guinea to alert health authorities about suspicious symptoms and possible epidemics. AFG’s Labomobil©, an all-terrain vehicle outfitted with laboratory equipment (laminar flow hood, incubator, centrifuge, refrigerator, fluorescent microscope) and its own energy and water sources, capable of withstanding the hardships of African climate and roads, will then respond to the alerts, gathering data and alerting the authorities.

During the first two months of the project, AFG will hold educational seminars in villages to teach the population how to identify signs and symptoms of acute NTDs, as well as how to send an alert SMS to a server, which will run an open source SMS analyzing program. The SMS will contain simple codes for villages and types of diseases suspected by the residents. When the number of reports from the villages reaches a threshold based on the number of residents and cell phone users in each village, the Labomobil© will visit the sites and conduct diagnosis. The mobile laboratory visit schedule will be announced to the case reporters via SMS.  The two main goals of the project are: (1) to educate people in outlying villages on identifying cases of LF, onchocerciasis, and STH and how to report the occurrences via SMS; and (2) to build a response system that expedites the correct identification of disease outbreaks in regions that have not been regularly surveyed for these NTDs previously.

About Grand Challenges Explorations

Grand Challenges Explorations is a US$100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Launched in 2008, over 800 people in more than 50 countries have received Grand Challenges Explorations grants.  The grant program is open to anyone from any discipline and from any organization.  The initiative uses an agile, accelerated grant-making process with short two-page online applications and no preliminary data required.  Initial grants of US$100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to US$1 million.


About American Friends of Guinea (AFG)

AFG is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization created to help the citizens of the Republic of Guinea, located in West Africa, improve their quality of life, with a focus on providing real solutions to the country’s medical and economic needs. The mission of AFG is to promote the wellbeing of the people of Guinea by supporting and implementing sustainable health, social and economic development programs.

More information about AFG can be found at | Facebook: | Twitter: @AFGuinea



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  • AFG needs your help! We depend on contributions from foundations, companies and individuals to continue our work in Guinea.

    Our primary goal is to assist hospitals and health centers in Guinea who care for the welfare of the Guinean population. We do this by providing medical aid, improving and upgrading existing infrastructure in health facilities and implementing disease prevention and treatment programs.

    We also aim to improve the overall quality of life of the population by supporting and promoting economic growth and technical development.

    You can make a difference!