Emergency (organization)

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Emergency logo.png
Formation 1994; 24 years ago (1994)
Founder Gino Strada
Type International medical NGO
Headquarters Milan, Italy
Website en.emergency.it

Emergency is a humanitarian non-governmental organization that provides free medical treatment to civilian victims of war, poverty and landmines. It was founded by war surgeon Gino Strada in 1994 in Milan.

Emergency has active operations in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Iraq, Italy, Sierra Leone, Sudan, and Uganda. Its projects usually involve the construction, support, and operation of permanent hospitals.

As of 2017, more than nine million people have received care from EMERGENCY health centers.[1]

Gino Strada and the co-founders of EMERGENCY aimed to bring free, high-quality medical and surgical assistance to war victims. Over time, their humanitarian projects assumed a broader view, with the charity now providing specialist medical care in locations that require particular facilities and expertise – such as maternity services in Anabah, Afghanistan[2] and open-heart surgery in Khartoum, Sudan.[3] Alongside its medical activities, EMERGENCY attempts to promote a culture of peace and solidarity, while emphasising access to high quality healthcare as a fundamental human right.


How EMERGENCY operates[edit]

EMERGENCY begins operations in a specific region or country based on two major factors: the need for specialized medical assistance from the local population, and the absence of similar humanitarian projects in that given country. Once a project is initiated, specialized international personnel construct and operate high-quality surgical centres for war and landmines victims, as well as physical and social rehabilitation facilities, first aid posts, and health centres for basic medical assistance. EMERGENCY also deals with endemic diseases such as polio and malaria and provides basic health care, not only in war-torn areas, but also for high poverty regions; as well as forming social development projects. All of EMERGENCY's facilities are dedicated to training local staff so that they may eventually take over the running of operations from the NGO’s international personnel.

Current projects[edit]


Map of countries where EMERGENCY operates and has completed programs

EMERGENCY has been working in Afghanistan since 2000, when the organization began renovating and expanding a former nursery school in the center of the capital, Kabul, which had been destroyed by a rocket. In April 2001, this structure re-opened as a Surgical Center for victims of war and landmines. Since then, over 36,000 patients have been admitted to the facility.

EMERGENCY also runs a Surgical Center in Lashkar-Gah;[4] the only free, specialized facility in the Helmand Province and in the remote areas surrounding it with first aid posts, where wounded patients are stabilized before being transferred to the main hospital by ambulance.

EMERGENCY operates two centers in the district of Anabah, Panjshir Valley: a medical-surgical center opened in 1999 and a maternity center opened in 2003. Similarly to other projects, EMERGENCY has established a network of First Aid Posts and Primary Health Clinics connected to the center.[5]

Central African Republic[edit]

EMERGENCY currently operates two projects in Central African Republic. The Bangui Pediatric Center was built in 2009 and provides free healthcare for children up to the age of 14, 24 hours a day. The center also organizes numerous outreach programmes, including health promotion for families and training for local medical staff.[6]


EMERGENCY has been working with migrants, refugees and disadvantaged individuals in Italy since 2005. Through a network of Outpatient clinics (located in Palermo, Polistena, Marghera, Castel Volturno, Naples), the NGO has provided over 210,000 consultations.

EMERGENCY also runs Mobile Clinics across Italy, which are intended to provide healthcare in places were access to public facilities is limited, including farming areas, refugee and migrant reception centres, and Roma camps. The Mobile Clinics are housed in converted buses, minivans and lorries that serve Apulia, Emilia Romagna, Sicilia, Campania, Basilicata and Calabria.[7]


EMERGENCY has been established in Iraq since 1995, primarily treating victims of landmines left over from the 1981-1988 conflict. The Sulaimaniya Rehabilitation and Social Integration Center provides physiotherapy, the fitting of prostheses for amputees, and vocational training courses.

In 2017, EMERGENCY reestablished operations at the surgical center in Erbil that it had handed over to local authorities in 2005. The decision was taken due to the hospital's proximity to the Battle for Mosul. Throughout the year, the organisation provided free medical assistance to casualties of war and underwent extensive renovations, increasing its original bed capacity. As the acute phase of fighting ended, the hospital was handed back to be run by local authorities. EMERGENCY performed 1,749 surgical operations during its intervention, mainly for bullet and shell injuries[8].

In light of the ongoing refugee and internal migration crisis, EMERGENCY operates healthcare clinics in refugee and IDP camps in northern Iraq.[9]

Sierra Leone[edit]

Over the past 20 years, Sierra Leone has endured a bloody civil war, causing at least 75,000 deaths, and the Ebola crisis, which began in May 2014. In response to the Ebola crisis, EMERGENCY staff were trained in containing the spread of the disease at their established surgical and pediatric center in Goderich. With the virus spreading rapidly, EMERGENCY opened an intensive care unit for Ebola patients - the only facility of its kind in Sierra Leone. As hospitals were overwhelmed, the EMERGENCY center was the only surgical and pediatric center to remain open in the entire country.[10]


EMERGENCY’s largest project in Sudan is the Salam Center for Cardiac Surgery in the capital, Khartoum. In view of the high incidence of heart disease in African countries and the lack of adequate health care standards, the Salam Center offers specialized heart surgery, with the aim of its establishment as a regional center for cardiac surgery serving the people of Sudan and the nine bordering countries: Egypt, Libya, Chad, the Central African Republic, Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The organization also runs a free paediatric center within the Mayo Refugee camp, on the outskirts of Khartoum since December 2005, and in Port Sudan since 2011.[11]


In 2017, construction work began on the Centre of Excellence in Paediatric Surgery in Entebbe, on the banks of Lake Victoria, 35 kilometres from the Ugandan capital Kampala.[12]

The hospital will offer free treatment and be a referral for Ugandan patients as well as children from all over Africa in need of surgery. One of its main aims is to help reduce infant mortality in Uganda and neighbouring countries, as part of the African Network of Medical Excellence (ANME). The ANME was created in 2009 to develop free medical systems of excellent quality. The hospital in Entebbe will be the second project in the network, after the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery in Khartoum, Sudan.

'A Culture of Peace'

Volunteers, medical and non-medical staff contribute to promoting a culture of peace, solidarity, and awareness and respect of human rights.

Volunteers in Italy and abroad constitute a great part of EMERGENCY's work, organising a wide range of events for the fundraising that allows the organisation to operate in various countries.

International branches

EMERGENCY has affiliates in Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Switzerland, UK and the USA.


EMERGENCY and its founder, Gino Strada, have been awarded numerous awards for their work.

On 30 November 2015, Gino Strada received the Right Livelihood Award in Stockholm, Sweden, “for his great humanity and his ability to offer medical and surgical assistance of excellence to the victims of war and injustice, continuing to denounce the causes of war without fear."[13]

The organization was awarded the Gold Medal for Public Health by the Italian government in 2016.[14]

In February 2017, Dr Gino Strada and EMERGENCY were awarded the Sunhak Peace Prize in Seoul, South Korea, for treating Ebola in Sierra Leone.



In Italian[edit]

External links[edit]