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Gino Strada

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Gino Strada
Strada in 2010
Born(1948-04-21)21 April 1948
Died13 August 2021(2021-08-13) (aged 73)
Rouen, France
Alma materUniversity of Milan
Years active1978-2021
Known forFounder of Emergency
Teresa Sarti
(m. 1971; died 2009)
Medical career

Gino Strada (21 April 1948 – 13 August 2021) was an Italian war surgeon, human rights activist, peace activist, and founder of Emergency, a recognized international non-governmental organization.

Early life and education[edit]

Gino Strada was born on 21 April 1948 in the Milanese suburb of Sesto San Giovanni.[1][2] After attending the Giosuè Carducci lyceum,[1] he studied medicine and trauma surgery at the University of Milan and graduated in 1978, specializing in emergency surgery.[2] He then studied and trained as a heart-lung transplant surgeon in several major hospitals abroad, including the Stanford University and the University of Pittsburgh medical centers in the United States and the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa.[2]


Strada worked as a doctor at a hospital in Rho near Milan, and soon decided to focus on trauma surgery and the treatment of war victims.[1] In 1988, he began to work as a surgeon with the International Committee of the Red Cross in various conflict zones, including Pakistan, Ethiopia, Peru, Afghanistan, Thailand, Djibouti, Somalia and Bosnia.[2]

In 1994, along with his wife and a group of colleagues, Strada founded Emergency, a medical humanitarian organisation based in Milan.[3] Since then, Emergency has treated millions of patients around the world. Strada's first project under the flag of Emergency was based in Rwanda during the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and he followed this up by launching projects in Iraq, Cambodia, Eritrea and Afghanistan.[4]

Strada's main focus throughout his career was to help victims of war, including direct casualties of conflict and also those who, as a result of war, had no access to healthcare leaving them vulnerable to preventable diseases.[4]


The first Emergency hospital in Afghanistan was set up in 2000 in Kabul after the Taliban turned over a former Soviet-built kindergarten to the organization.[5][6]

After the United States invasion of Afghanistan, Strada negotiated with the Taliban leader Mohammed Omar when NATO deemed it impossible to deal with the group, in order to operate a hospital behind their frontlines.[7] Strada then opened a new maternity centre in Afghanistan in 2003, which became a reference point in the Panjshir Valley and the surrounding provinces.[8] The centre was recognised by the Afghan ministry of health as a centre of specialisation for gynaecology, obstetrics, and paediatrics.[9] By 2013 Emergency was operating four hospitals and 34 clinics, while the Red Cross had withdrawn 95% of its personnel from the country on the grounds that the war had ended. Since 2001 up to that moment, "NATO forces" had yet to build civilian hospitals in Afghanistan, Strada claimed.[7]


In 2007, Strada opened the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, the first hospital in the region to offer free, high-quality cardiac surgery to patients who would have otherwise been unable to access treatment.[10] Strada worked in the centre until 2014, and today[when?] it has treated patients from 30 different countries, both within Africa and further afield.[11] The idea for the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery came from Strada's belief that the basis for the freedom and quality of human beings with regard to dignity and rights must also extend to the right to free treatment without discrimination: "If you think of medicine as a human right, then you cannot have some hospitals that offer sophisticated, very effective, hi-tech medicine", he says, "and then go to Africa and think, 'OK, here's a couple of vaccinations and a few shots'. Do we think that we human beings, we are all equal in rights and dignity, or not? We say, 'Yes, we are.'" – interview in The Observer, 2013.[12]

This belief also meant that in 2009, Strada contributed to the creation of the ANME (African Network of Medical Excellence), with the aim of promoting the construction of Medical Centres of Excellence across Africa, based on the model of the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery.[13] In 2017, construction began on the second centre to form part of the network, the Centre of Excellence in Paediatric Surgery in Entebbe, Uganda,[14] based on a plan drawn up by Strada's friend, Renzo Piano.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Strada had a heart condition, and had undergone a quadruple bypass operation after suffering a heart attack in Iraqi Kurdistan when he and his team came under fire from the forces of Saddam Hussein.[7]

Strada was married to Teresa Sarti, who was co-founder with her husband of Emergency and president of the organization.[15][16] Together, they have a daughter, Cecilia Strada (b.1979), a journalist. Shortly after Teresa's death in Milan on 1 September 2009, Cecilia was elected to take over as president of Emergency.[17]

Strada married Simonetta Gola, Emergency's communications manager, in June 2021.[1][18] On 13 August 2021, he died of a heart attack while on vacation in Rouen, France,[19][20] at the age of 73.[21]

Notable views[edit]

  • "If any human being is, in this precise moment, suffering, or ill, or hungry, that is something that should concern all of us because to ignore the suffering of a person is always an act of violence, one of the most cowardly."[3]


  • Gino Strada, Pappagalli verdi: cronache di un chirurgo di guerra, 2000, ISBN 88-07-17032-9.
  • Gino Strada, Buskashi. Viaggio dentro la guerra (A Journey inside war), 2003, ISBN 88-07-17069-8.
  • Gino Strada, Howard Zinn Green Parrots. A war surgeon's diary, 2004, ISBN 88-8158-524-3.
  • Gino Strada, Howard Zinn Just war, 2005, ISBN 88-8158-572-3.

Awards and honors[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "La storia di Gino Strada, medico filantropo". Corriere della Sera (in Italian). 13 August 2021. Retrieved 15 August 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d "Gino Strada: Italian surgeon and Emergency NGO founder dies aged 73". euronews. 13 August 2021. Retrieved 15 August 2021.
  3. ^ a b Lizzy Davies, "'Maestro of humanity': Italian surgeon Gino Strada dies at 73". The Guardian, 13 August 2021: "Se un qualsiasi essere umano sta in questo momento soffrendo, è malato o ha fame ci deve riguardare tutti, perché ignorare la sofferenza di una persona è sempre un atto di violenza, e tra i più vigliacchi".
  4. ^ a b Povoledo, Elisabetta; Tribune, International Herald (14 August 2004). "Caring for victims, war zone by war zone". The New York Times.
  5. ^ Annie Gowen,Kabul trauma center threatens to shut doors because of violence,' Washington Post 6 June 2017
  6. ^ Giles Duley 'I lost three limbs in Afghanistan, but had to go back … ' The Observer 10 February 2013
  7. ^ a b c d Carole Cadwalladr, "Meet Gino Strada, unsung hero to the poorest victims of war", The Guardian 14 July 2013
  8. ^ Zucchino, David; Faizi, Fatima (12 September 2019). "At a Maternity Center Near a War Zone, 20 Births in One Day". The New York Times.
  9. ^ "EMERGENCY responds to outbreak at the Anabah Maternity Centre, Afghanistan". ReliefWeb: EMERGENCY. 5 November 2018. Archived from the original on 14 August 2021. Retrieved 14 August 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  10. ^ "Ugandans in need of heart surgeries find hope in Khartoum". The Independent. 26 July 2019. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  11. ^ "Ugandans getting free heart surgery in Khartoum". The Observer - Uganda. 28 July 2019. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  12. ^ Strada, Gino (14 July 2013). "Meet Gino Strada, unsung hero to the poorest victims of war" (Interview). Interviewed by Carole Cadwalladr. London: The Observer. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  13. ^ emergencyuk.org (2019). "Salam Centre For Cardiac Surgery". Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  14. ^ "A Hospital in Uganda for Kids from All of Africa". www.enelgreenpower.com. 15 February 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2021.
  15. ^ Cauli, Tiziana (18 December 2008). "Teresa Sarti: A former teacher-turned-prominent humanitarian". Devex. Retrieved 14 August 2021. EDITOR'S NOTE: The interview took place nearly a year before Teresa Sarti passed away 1 September 2009, in Milan, Italy.
  16. ^ "Ten Years Without Teresa Sarti. She Brought Excellence in Healthcare to Africa with Emergency - Focus On Africa -". Focus On Africa. 1 September 2019.
  17. ^ Daneo, Chiara (23 December 2009). "Cecilia Strada è la nuova presidente". Vita (in Italian). Retrieved 15 August 2021.
  18. ^ "Gino Strada, il matrimonio a giugno con Simonetta Gola: lo aveva celebrato il sindaco di Milano Sala" [Gino Strada, the wedding in June with Simonetta Gola: it was celebrated by the mayor of Milan Sala]. Corriere della Sera (in Italian). 13 August 2021. Retrieved 15 August 2021.
  19. ^ Luca Carra, Roberto Satolli, Il metodo Gino Strada Scienzeinrete, 15 August 2021
  20. ^ "Addio a Gino Strada, è morto a 73 anni il fondatore di Emergency. Mattarella: "Ha portato le ragioni della vita, dove la guerra imponeva violenza e morte"" [Farewell to Gino Strada, the founder of Emergency died at 73. Mattarella: "He brought the reasons for life, where war imposed violence and death"]. Il Fatto Quotidiano. 13 August 2021.
  21. ^ Marta Serafini (13 August 2021). "È morto Gino Strada, il fondatore di Emergency aveva 73 anni" [Gino Strada died, the founder of Emergency was 73 years old]. Corriere della Sera.
  22. ^ Premio Colombe d'Oro per la Pace, Gino Strada (Colomba d'Oro - XVII edizione 2001)
  23. ^ "Premio Colombe d'Oro per la pace" [Colombe d'Oro Peace Prize]. www.archiviodisarmo.it. Retrieved 13 August 2021.
  24. ^ "248908 Ginostrada (2006 VY45)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  25. ^ "MPC/MPO/MPS Archive". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  26. ^ "Gino Strada / EMERGENCY". Right Livelihood. 13 August 2021. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  27. ^ "Sunhak Peace Prize awarded to Dr. Gino Strada and Sakena Yacoobi". The Washington Times. 29 November 2016.

External links[edit]