Emergency (organization)

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Emergency (NGO) logo.png
Formation1994; 25 years ago (1994)
FounderGino Strada
TypeInternational medical NGO
HeadquartersMilan, Italy

Emergency is a humanitarian NGO that provides free medical treatment to the victims of war, poverty and landmines. It was founded in 1994. Gino Strada, one of the organisation's co-founders, serves as EMERGENCY's Executive Director.[1]

EMERGENCY has treated over 10 million patients since its inception. The organisation has active operations in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Iraq, Italy, Sierra Leone, Sudan, and Uganda.

EMERGENCY operates based on the premise that access to high-quality healthcare is a fundamental human right.[2]

Projects usually involve the construction, support, and operation of permanent hospitals. Gino Strada and the co-founders aim was to bring free of charge, high-quality medical and surgical assistance to war victims. Over time, their humanitarian projects assumed a broader view, with the charity now providing specialist and ongoing medical care, including maternity services and open-heart surgery, in locations that require these facilities and expertise. The Anabah Maternity Centre [3] in Anabah, Afghanistan and the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery [4] in Khartoum, Sudan, are examples of EMERGENCY's focus on tertiary level care.

Alongside its medical activities, EMERGENCY promotes a culture of peace and solidarity.

EMERGENCY was recognised as a Non-profit Organisation in 1998, and received jurisdictional approval as a Non-Governmental Organization in 1999. EMERGENCY has been an official partner of the United Nations Department of Public Information since 2006, and a special consultant for the United Nations Economic and Social Council since 2015.[5]

Mandate and Values[edit]

EMERGENCY builds hospitals, trains local staff, and provides medical assistance to victims of war and poverty. Its vision of healthcare provision is rooted in the principles of equality, quality and social responsibility. On the basis of these values, EMERGENCY advocates that:

  • each and every human being has the fundamental right to medical treatment;
  • that governments around the world must allocate more resources towards providing high quality healthcare;
  • and that universal access to medicine can serves as an opportunity to promote the fundamental values of solidarity and peace.

EMERGENCY’s stated goal is to provide quality medical assistance to victims of war and poverty around the world. The organisational aim is to employ first class medical services as a means to tackle boundaries and inequalities.[6]


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 facilities, as well as 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 in these circumstances, as well as establishing social development projects, not only in war-torn areas, but also in high poverty regions. Since 2005, it has worked in Italy to provide healthcare to marginalised groups and communities. 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.

EMERGENCY builds and manages:

  • Hospitals specifically dedicated to war victims and surgical emergencies;
  • Physical and social rehabilitation centres;
  • First aid centres for emergency treatment and to refer patients to surgical centres;
  • Healthcare centres for primary medical assistance;
  • Paediatric clinics;
  • Maternity centres;
  • Outpatient clinics and mobile clinics for migrants and people in need;
  • Centres of medical excellence [7]

Local Staff[edit]

The aim of EMERGENCY’s humanitarian projects and missions is to transfer long-term project management to local healthcare authorities, as long as the two core aspects of EMERGENCY’s activities, high-quality and free assistance, are guaranteed. On the basis of this aim, EMERGENCY has employed thousands of local staff in the countries they operate to cover both medical and non-medical positions. The organisation provides both theoretical and practical training and EMERGENCY considers this an integral part of its programmes.[8]

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;[9] 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.[10]

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.[11]


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.[12]


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.[13]

In light of the ongoing refugee and internal migration crisis, EMERGENCY operates healthcare clinics in refugee and IDP camps in northern Iraq.[14]

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.[15]


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.[16]


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.[17]

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."[18]

The organization was awarded the Gold Medal for Public Health by the Italian government in 2016.[19]

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


  1. ^ "Who we are- The Organization".
  2. ^ "Who we are- Our History- Our Principles".
  3. ^ "What we do - Afghanistan - Maternity Centre". www.emergency.it. Retrieved 2017-08-23.
  4. ^ "What we do - Sudan - Salam Centre".
  5. ^ "Who we are- The Organization".
  6. ^ "What we do- What does EMERGENCY do?".
  7. ^ "About Us- What we do- Our Facilities".
  8. ^ "Report 2017" (PDF). en.emergency.it.
  9. ^ "Where we work - Afghanistan - Lashkar-gah".
  10. ^ "Where we work - Afghanistan".
  11. ^ "Where we work - Central African Republic".
  12. ^ "Where we work - Italy".
  13. ^ "Where we work - Iraq - Erbil Surgical Centre".
  14. ^ "Where we work - Iraq".
  15. ^ "Where we work - Sierra Leone".
  16. ^ "Where we work - Sudan".
  17. ^ ""Where we work - Uganda"". emergencyuk.org. Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  18. ^ "Gino Strada / EMERGENCYThe Right Livelihood Award". www.rightlivelihoodaward.org. Retrieved 2017-08-24.
  19. ^ "Anche noi abbiamo vinto un oro".


In Italian[edit]

External links[edit]