July 30, 2015
June 8th, 2015
Sarah and Reynaldo's Journey to the Salam Center
On Monday siblings Sarah Joy Nilo and Reynaldo Nilo left their home in the Philippines to travel over 5,000 miles to our Salam Center for Cardiac Surgeryin Sudan so that Reynaldo can receive necessary cardiac surgery free of charge.
Their full journey began a year ago, however, when Sarah saw the 2013 Oscar Nominated short documentary Open Heart, which tells the story of eight Rwandan children who travel to the SalamCenter outside of Khartoum, Sudan to receive open-heart surgery. The children featured in the film suffered from rheumatic heart disease, which develops from untreated childhood strep throat and is the same disease that had weakened the heart valves of Sarah's 17-year-old brother Reynaldo. Sarah saw a chance for Reynaldo to receive the cardiac surgery he needed, which, in the Philippines, was cost prohibitive and inaccessible through charitable avenues. She contacted Kief Davidson, director of the film, explaining her brother's need and asking for help. Kief brought in producer Cori Stern, who put her in touch with EMERGENCY.
Since its opening in 2007, the Salam Center has performed over 5,766 surgical interventions and has seen patients from 25 countries. Upon hearing about Reynaldo's situation, EMERGENCY agreed to fund the necessary heart valve replacement surgery at the Center and pay for other medications that he needed for the rest of his life.
"I am extremely grateful to [EMERGENCY] for giving me the chance to have a longer life," Reynaldo told AFP in an interview before they left.
"We are just so happy that this foundation [EMERGENCY] agreed to help us," Sarah adds. "We were afraid we would lose him."
Despite the guarantee of the surgery itself, it took considerable effort and time to arrange the trip to Sudan. Our colleagues at EMERGENCY Hong Kong helped the two secure their travel.
Now Sarah and Reynaldo have flown from Manilla to Istanbul to Khartoum. Reynaldo will receive the surgery he so desperately needs. The procedure and Reynaldo's condition means it isn't without risk, but he will be accompanied by Sarah, sister and constant advocate, through it all.
February 3rd, 2015
European Union – EMERGENCY
Supporting the Civilian Victims of War and Poverty in Mayo Camp
The Delegation of the European Union to Sudan and the EMERGENCY Life Support for Civilian War Victims Organization announced the end of the three years project in the Mayo camp on the outskirts of Khartoum, Sudan. The project, called "Community participation to strengthen basic maternal and pediatric health services in Mayo camp", was co-funded by the European Union and was implemented in partnership with the Khartoum Ministry of Health - Department of Voluntary Associations (DOVA) and in collaboration with the Khartoum Ministry of Health (MoH).
The main aim of the project was to widen the existing healthcare services available at EMERGENCY’s Mayo Pediatric Center, enhancing basic maternal and pediatric care services and expanding them in the sense of both community mobilization and community ownership of healthcare.
As Fabio Frigeni, EMERGENCY’s Manager in Khartoum says the project strengthened the awareness of the camp population on basic healthcare. The most important result of the project was the training of 47 community members as preventive medicine village volunteers with the ability to recognize danger signs that require referral.
Moreover, 18 of EMERGENCY’s national staff have been trained on the job, enhancing their competence in supporting the health needs of the camp population.
In EMERGENCY’s experience, the work of health promoters can make the difference for the children’s health: providing healthcare to a child in the moment when he or she needs it reduces the risks and the consequences of the illness.
Furthermore, during the project’s implementation, EMERGENCY organized many meetings with the Popular Committees and the partners in which community health problems were discussed and solutions were jointly identified. Moreover, in order to maximize the impact on the population of the Mayo camp and to better understand the health needs of the population, EMERGENCY community health promoters went all around the camp to find sick children, give hygiene advice to the patients' families, and monitor for the proper use of the prescribed therapies. More than 8,400 children received visits by EMERGENCY community health promoters.
The project’s activities have had a far reach and surpassed the expected results: a total number of 61,810 deprived children were treated in the Pediatric Center and 6,769 vulnerable pregnant women received antenatal care services.
Ambassador Tomas Ulicny Head of Delegation of the European Union to Sudan said the European Union co funded this project to strengthen health rights in Sudan: “I am glad to have worked with EMERGENCY, an Italian humanitarian Non-Governmental Organization, established in 1994 to provide high quality, free of charge medical and surgical assistance to the civilian victims of war and poverty and active in Sudan since 2004.” Ambassador Tomas Ulicny says the project strengthened the capacities of the local medical staff that has worked side by side with EMERGENCY international medical staff.
For more information, please contact:
Mr Fabio Frigeni, EMERGENCY Manager, Khartoum
Ms Martina Williams, EMERGENCY Regional Officer, Khartoum
Mr Ahmed Eltayeb, Public Affairs Advisor
Phone: + 249 183 799393
February 3rd, 2015
EMERGENCY Meets Needs of Growing Refugee Population in Northern Iraq
The situation in Northern Iraq is worsening day by day. Now that the fighting has arrived in Kirkuk, there has been a sizable increase in refugees fleeing the war.
The Arbat refugee camp, a few kilometers from Sulaimaniya, has become increasingly crowded: in a month, it has gone from 3,300 inhabitants to over 16 thousand.
Refugees shelter themselves in tents that do little to protect against the intense cold and the snow, which falls for days on end.
Our two health clinics in the camp, which were opened last summer, are seeing a large number of children, who are the first to suffer in these conditions.
Our team is working to expand and increase the functionality of these clinics, which were intended to be temporary, so that we can offer the care these refugees need and send a message of solidarity.
January 3rd, 2015
A recent article on the British newspaper The Guardian, (The Guardian, Monday 22 December, 2014) reported several groundless conjectures, lies and unverified information about EMERGENCY's work in the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone. Some of these unsubstantiated accusations have also been written by the same group of NHS doctors as a response to a BMJ article (http://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g7198/rapid-responses) and have been reported in an article on Aljazeera website.
It is false that "mortality rate in the Lakka Centre is around 67%". The Lakka Centre has been operational as both isolation and treatment unit from the 18th of September until the 10th of December 2014. The overall Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of the Centre, where 122 patients with a confirmed EVD diagnosis have been treated, is 57.4%, with 52 survivors and 70 dead (13 of these patients arrived in very critical conditions and died within 24 hours from admission). CFR from other Ebola Treatment Centres are not always available and not very reliable as stated also by WHO experts. Recent WHO reports estimate the CFR in treatment centres to be around 60% (WHO Situation report, 24 December 2014).
It is false that amiodarone is an untested drug in humans. It has been used in clinical cardiology for 40 years, prescribed to millions of people, even in critical conditions and in patients in need of intensive care. In fact, very few drugs have a well know safety profile as does amiodarone, confirmed by such a long term of use: aspirin, metformin and a few others. It is true that amiodarone has not been tested yet in the treatment of EVD (but for the acceptability of this use see below). Nevertheless it is widely acknowledged in clinical research for "off label" use of already known drugs for new purposes. In the "Ethical considerations for use of unregistered interventions for Ebola viral disease" a WHO panel stated that it is ethically acceptable to offer unproven interventions that have shown promising results in the laboratory and in animal models but have not yet been evaluated for safety and efficacy in humans as potential treatment or prevention. We don't see why this principle should not be applied to such a safe drug as amiodarone.
It is false and highly offensive to state that EMERGENCY used amiodarone in a "reckless" way outside "carefully controlled conditions". On the contrary, amiodarone has been used with an intensive ICU patients' monitoring: non-invasive arterial pressure, ECG (including Q-T interval determination), heart rate, oxygen saturation, electrolytes.
It is false that EMERGENCY stopped administing amiodarone upon request from DFID. DFID is not involved in technical assessing nor determining patients therapies or clinical procedures.
EMERGENCY acknowledged from the very beginning that it was necessary to design a proper randomized clinical trial to promote scientific knowledge in the Ebola context. The study named EASE (Emergency Amiodarone Study against Ebola) has been registered on ClinicaTrials.gov and already approved by the ethical committees of the IRCCS of Reggio Emilia, Italy, and by the ethical committee of the Italian National Institute of infectious diseases, L. Spallanzani, Rome. EMERGENCY decided to stop the "case by case" use of amiodarone when the EASE trial has been submitted to the Ethical and Scientific Committee of Sierra Leone.
It is false that DFID withdrew NHS staff from EMERGENCY's facility. EMERGENCY has been very open and transparent in discussing its clinical approach with every member of its team. After more than one week of repeated discussions with the NHS team, EMERGENCY agreed with those who were not feeling comfortable that they could stop their cooperation with the organization. An approach endorsed by DFID, too. On the contrary, some of the NHS team who wanted to continue to work with us were put under pressure and threatened by colleagues until eventually all of the team left. Nevertheless some members of that same team have already expressed their willingness to come back to work again with EMERGENCY in the future.
EMERGENCY has been very surprised by this behaviour because our work had been previously very positively evaluated by a Quality Assessment survey performed by UK Med, shared both with DFID and NHS. In addition, EMERGENCY's clinical practices have been officially endorsed by the Chief Medical Officer of Sierra Leone and the organization has provided important inputs in the development of the newly published WHO Sierra Leone adaptation VHF pocket guide.
It is false that "the main focus of the EMERGENCY staff was to ensure the patients received these drugs instead of ensuring they were adequately hydrated, clean and comfortable". As stated in WHO and EMERGENCY clinical guidelines, patients' rehydration is one of the most important components of the supportive treatment. Patients have been aggressively rehydrated with several liters of infusions per day to restore volume and electrolytes balance. Rosters in Lakka were organized to guarantee an optimal patients attendance: approximately 350 min per patient per day of medical attention, allowing accurate monitoring to provide the best possible standard of care, and to ensure high standards of hygiene. If the NHS team had spent time looking after patients in the hospital rather than staying at home to exercise criticism, they would have had a much clearer picture of our patients management. Out of the 122 Ebola confirmed patients treated in Lakka, they have actually observed very few patients and for a very limited period of time. EMERGENCY has formally shared with DFID an official complaint report about the behaviour of some NHS staff and the management of the team by UK Med.
It is false and slanderous to state that EMERGENCY does not ask for patients' consent. For 20 years in all of EMERGENCY's facilities worldwide patients, or relatives when appropriate, are requested to provide their informed consent for any medical or surgical procedures.
On the contrary, we wonder why no one is asking the African patients their "consent" to be treated in a very different way ("a second class way", one could say) compared to the "western patients".
Following an in-depth discussion with international experts and scientists, EMERGENCY decided to administer the drug called amiodarone to some patients affected by Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Sierra Leone. The drug has been used "off label", i.e. outside the normal therapeutic indications.
EMERGENCY believes that this decision is scientifically and ethically appropriate, since many tests performed in vitro proved that amiodarone has a specific anti-viral action against Ebola virus. (J Antimicrob Chemother. 2014 Aug;69(8):2123-31. doi: 10.1093/jac/dku091. Epub 2014 Apr 7.), at the dosage commonly prescribed in clinical cardiology. All patients who received it (upon a medical "case by case" decision, outside a clinical protocol or trial) have been very carefully monitored throughout the treatment.
Confronting a disease that is still registering a very high mortality rate and for which no specific treatment is available, we believe that the use of drugs with a potentially beneficial effect against Ebola is ethical and appropriate, provided that the drugs are safe and their side effects known.
The decision to use amiodarone in Lakka on a case by case basis was shared with the Health Authorities of Sierra Leone, and authorised by a Memorandum of Understanding, signed on the 22nd of September 2014 with the Ministry of Health.
Unfortunately amiodarone has a major defect, unbearable for many of the "experts" involved in different ways in the "fight against Ebola": amiodarone does not produce any profit for anyone. It simply cannot produce profit, being a generic drug, out of patent for many years, easy to be produced at a very low cost, a few cents per tablet, anywhere in the world.
Obviously, EMERGENCY is not stating that amiodarone is working against Ebola. To say it should be tested with a randomized clinical trial, as we proposed. Nevertheless, we believe that it is foolish from a scientific perspective to deny approval for testing amiodarone while focusing exclusively on new drugs (really "untested") available only in Europe or in the US in very limited quantity and at a very high cost (hundreds of thousands of US dollars per dose). This could be a lost chance to contribute to the defeat of Ebola.
Observational data on patients who have received amiodarone at the Lakka Ebola Treatment Unit managed by EMERGENCY can be summarised as follows:
48 patients received the drug in dosages aiming at obtaining a serum plasma concentration up to 10 uM, in order to develop a significant anti-viral action, without exceeding 20 mg/kg/die which is the maximum suggested dosage in clinical cardiology. Amiodarone has been administered I.V. in the first 3 days and orally in the following 7 days of treatment.
We recorded 24 deaths in patients who were receiving amiodarone (6 of them presented in very critical conditions and died within 24 hours from admission). The mortality rate within this group has been 50%. (42.8% if we exclude those 6 early deaths, 18 dead over 42 patients).
As previously stated, the overall CFR of the Lakka Centre was 57.4%, over 122 patients, and 52.3% if we exclude the 13 patients who died within 24 hours from admission.
As far as drug safety is concerned, we have observed minor side effects in 2 patients only: in one case, systolic pressure dropped by 20%, in the other we registered bradycardia (Heart Rate 60 beats/min). Despite the fact that both patients remained asymptomatic, our clinicians decided to stop administering amiodarone.
These preliminary observations provide, in our opinion, a solid ethical and scientific ground to state that amiodarone is not "harmful" for the patients and might even be beneficial, reinforcing the rationale for a clinical trial.
The disgraceful article on The Guardian actually raises further important questions.
Is it just a coincidence that the controversy on The Guardian is supported by Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, a "scientist" who did not even think he should check the reliable of the information substantiating his offensive and provocative statements?
Unfortunately, very often during this outbreak, we've found many difficulties in understanding who's who. Many "experts" wear different hats at the same time and belong to different institutions, public and private, with often conflicting interests. Which interest is Mr. Farrar representing? On whose behalf is he speaking?
We know that he is a "member of the World Health Organisation scientific and technical advisory committee that is looking at potential Ebola drugs" and at the same time the director of a private Foundation heavily involved in the "race" to register new drugs against Ebola (The Pharmaceutical Journal 25 SEP 2014).
Quite curiously, while amiodarone is demonized, another compound of the same category (anti-arrhythmic drugs) has recently been proposed to be tested in patients affected by EVD: dronedarone. Although it did not show in vitro a significant antiviral action against Ebola (paper submitted for publication) and it is not as safe as amiodarone, dronedarone seems to have a special appeal: it is a patented drug, many times more expensive than amiodarone. The monthly cost of dronedarone therapy would roughly equal the monthly salary of a worker in Sierra Leone. No money left to buy food.
EMERGENCY believes that human rights belong to everybody and that every patient is entitled to receive high standard and free of charge health care. This is EMERGENCY's ethics, practiced daily in all our facilities worldwide.
December 28th, 2014
The first Ebola patient treated in Africa with the experimental drug ZMAb has been discharged from EMERGENCY's Ebola Treatment Center in Goderich, Sierra Leone.
The patient A.M., 72 years old, had been admitted 2 weeks ago in very critical conditions.
The ZMAb used for A.M. had been requested by the Ministry of Health of Sierra Leone to treat Dr. Victor Willoughby, a leading doctor in the country. Unfortunately, Dr. Willoughby died as soon as the drug arrived in country.
The Ministry of Health asked EMERGENCY to give the ZMAb to A.M., whose son and husband were two of Dr. Willoughby's patients and had died of Ebola few days before.
EMERGENCY's high quality Ebola Treatment Center in Goderich is the only center in Africa that has used ZMAb so far. It opened on 14th of December in collaboration with the UK's Department for International Development (DFID).
December 17th, 2014
Today in Lashkar-Gah city in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, suspected Taliban fighters detonated suicide bombs, stormed the Kabul Bank of Lashkar-Gah, and engaged in a firefight with security forces. The bank is the site in which the salaries of local police are paid out and has been the target of numerous attacks in the past.
Twenty casualties were taken to EMERGENCY‘s Lashkar-Gah Surgical Center for War Victims in the city; 6 were already dead on arrival. As the fighting appeared to be drawing to a close, a car bomb exploded in the midst of the rescuers. This explosion broke all the windows of the EMERGENCY hospital and caused some structural damage, but luckily none of the patients or staff were hurt.
December 15th, 2014
We had planned to open the new Center on Sunday, but we received a call from Connaught Hospital, the main hospital in Freetown, to ask us to transfer here one of their doctors who just tested positive for Ebola.
December 12th, 2014
International Business Times UK: The Ebola death councillors offering therapy to stem trauma in Sierra Leone
Monjama was one of the first survivors to leave our Ebola Treatment Center in Lakka, Sierra Leone. On Dember 12th, the International Business Times published an article with an update from Monjama, who is using her story of survival to help recovering patients suffering from the psychological trauma of this disease.
Even after a patient beats Ebola, the ostracism and trauma remain. EMERGENCY medical coordinator Luca Rolla explains, “A big problem with recovering patients is depression. People are dying everywhere around those patients [who] also face the stigma when they go back home.” Monjama and other survivors are working at the Lakka Center and using their positive stories of survival to connect with these patients.
December 10th, 2014
Yahoo! News: Modern Day Heroes
EMERGENCY founder Dr. Gino Strada has been included in the Yahoo! News article“Modern Day Heroes” for his work promoting peace and universal access to free-of-charge, high quality healthcare. Dr. Strada has performed over 30,000 surgeries all over the world in areas burdened by conflict and poverty. On the subject of what keeps him motivated to continue serving he says, “When you operate on a child and you see him walking again…or you operate on small children who come in with terminal conditions and you see them running in the garden a month later. That will give you the strength and the energy to work again.”
November 28th, 2014
The New York Times: For Afghans, the Fighting Now Knows No Season
Since the departure of U.S. and NATO military forces, the Taliban has escalated their attacks in Afghanistan. Insurgents targeted several military and civilian locations in a series of attacks on Thursday and Friday. The escalating conflict has lead to a large increase in civilian and military victims of war. This increase has been felt by EMERGENCY, which operates three hospitals, a maternity center and 40 clinics throughout Afghanistan. EMERGENCY coordinator Emanuele Nannini is consulted on the situation: “It’s getting much worse,” he said. “The fighting season almost doesn’t end any longer.”
November 21st, 2014
Affect Magazine: No Such Thing as an Ebola Crisis in U.S.
"At EMERGENCY’s treatment center in Lakka, beds only become available when current patients die or are discharged. As long as this is the case, in Sierra Leone and West Africa as a whole, the problem will only grow."
Despite the media attention towards the few isolated cases, there is no Ebola crisis in the U.S. What should cause concern is the deficit of infrastructure and personnel available to contain and curb the outbreak in West Africa. If we want to stop to global spread of Ebola, we should start by supporting programs like EMERGENCY's that help contain and care for infected patients with proven efficacy.
November 7th, 2014
Newsweek: For Health Care Workers Fighting Ebola, the Biggest Battle Is Staying Healthy
Dr. Gino Strada, the founder of EMERGENCY, tells Newsweek about the need to adequately train and protect health care workers. "He says the Ebola outbreak has forced many of Sierra Leone’s hospitals to be abandoned in recent months because of the high rates of health care worker infections …"
November 6th, 2014
Vice News: Afghanistan: What We're Leaving Behind
In this 30 minute report, Vice News correspondent Ben Anderson visits the EMERGENCY hospital in Lashkar-Gah, Afghanistan to speak with the medical staff as they attempt to manage the ever-growing influx of patients.
November 4th, 2014
SFGate: Ebola hits health care access for other diseases
There’s this incredible silent killer health crisis behind the Ebola crisis,” said Eric Talbert, the executive director of EMERGENCY USA. Due to the Ebola outbreak cases of such as malaria, pneumonia, and typhoid are going untreated..."
October 30, 2014
Vox: Experts say this is the one thing needed to stop the Ebola crisis
The World Bank Group has singled out the lack of Health Care personnel as the most critical element in fighting the Ebola outbreak. EMERGENCY’s founder Gino Strada, speaks here about the difficulty in recruiting health workers.
"The personnel is a critical factor," says Strada, a surgeon who is used to operating in the middle of more traditional battlefields, such as Afghanistan and Sudan. "To be able to provide each patient with a minimum of five to six hours of medical attention means you have to work on a rotation basis, so you need 100 nurses, and 10 to 15 doctors.”
Click here to read the article online.
October 26th, 2014
Washington Post: War Amputees in Afghanistan Face Harsh Lives of Discrimination and Poverty
Even though the victims of land mines and unexploded roadside bombs is increasing in Afghanistan, amputees continue to face discrimination and the harsh stigma of being disabled. From January to June of this year EMERGENCY’s Center for War Trauma Victims in Lashkar-Gah in southern Afghanistan performed 69 amputations. “Socially and financially, their lives are destroyed,” Emanuele Nannini, program director for EMERGENCY, which operates health-care centers across Afghanistan, said of Afghan amputees.
October 8th, 2014
Partnership with the talented and passionate team at End Ebola Now begins today with #ShakeEbolaOff dance challenge to help raise awareness and funds to support our Ebola response in Sierra Leone.
October 6th, 2014
It is possible to recover from Ebola: Monjama and Salatu have done just that!
Monjama and Salamatu are both 25 years old, from Freetown and Ebola survivors. They were treated at the EMERGENCY Ebola Treatment Center in Lakka, Sierra Leone.
September 23th, 2014
Our doctors and nurses are already working round-the-clock at the new Ebola Treatment Center in Lakka, Sierra Leone which we just opened 5 days ago.
So far, the center has taken in 10 patients, and 2 suspect cases are on their way now from the province of Pujehun.
Don Emanuel, the Spanish priest brought to our center last Friday, was taken back to his country yesterday morning. He’s in a critical condition.
His bed was been taken over by Grace, a 38-year old woman whose Ebola test was done while she was being taken care of in the isolation unit at our Goderich Surgical Center yesterday evening proved positive. Grace was 6 months pregnant, but she suffered a miscarriage just before being brought to our Ebola Treatment Center in Lakka.
September 18th, 2014
In Sierra Leone the Ebola epidemic is out of control. Over 1,500 people have contracted Ebola, and more than half of them have died. 500 new cases have come to light in the last 3 weeks alone. Every day, more than 20 people fall ill with the disease.
September 13th, 2014
So far there has been 1,305 cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone, including 76 in the capital of Freetown and 42 in the “Western Area” where our Goderich hospital is located. The two treatment centers of Kenema and Kailahun are full, and won’t be able to take in any more patients for a few days: those who test results come back positive will have to wait until a bed becomes free in the isolation units.
- Huffington Post article on September 16th, “As Ebola Outbreak Spreads, Here’s How You Can Help” – mentions EMERGENCY USA.
September 4th, 2014
The Ebola outbreak is creating a healthcare crisis as people are unable to access the life-saving surgical and medical treatment they need due to the closing of hospitals, the deaths of healthcare workers and the strain on the entire region as local personnel are being relocated to focus on treating and stopping Ebola, leaving many others in need of treatment with no place to go, except for our hospital.
Last Monday the President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, visited the EMERGENCY hospital in Goderich.
We told him that the closure of the children’s hospital and the operating rooms in the general hospital are having serious effects on our ability to treat people in need.
August 25th, 2014
Three patients tested positive for Ebola at the EMERGENCY hospital in Sierra Leone on, Sunday, August 24th, 2014. These patients who tested positive for Ebola were transferred from the EMERGENCY hospital in Goderich to the offical treatment center in Kenema, as required by national guidelines for Sierra Leone.
A woman and her 3-year-old twin daughters were admitted to the EMERGENCY hospital in Sierra Leone on Thursday evening with fever and diarrhea. They were immediately recognized as suspected cases, so they were placed in one of our two isolation wards where they were treated with supportive care while awaiting their test results.
August 21st, 2014
Due to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, EMERGENCY is running the only fully functional healthcare facilities in Freetown. Click here to read more.
August 19th, 2014
As we are inundated with media coverage of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, including Sierra Leone, it is important to recognize the root causes of this international public health crisis. On a global scale, these causes are war, poverty and privatized healthcare. By addressing these deeper root causes we can develop the tools and resources required to address the immediate and massive needs of those affected by the current crisis—the worst Ebola outbreak in recorded history—and prevent similar complex global health crises in the future. Click here to read, "5 Root Causes of the Ebola Crisis and How to Prevent a Future Outbreak" by Eric Talbert, Executive Director of EMERGENCY USA.
August 11th, 2014
Eric Talbert, Executive Director of EMERGENCY USA, was interviewed on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show about the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone and the impact its had on the EMERGENCY surgical and pediatric hospital near the capital city of Freetown. In this MSNBC segment hosted by Melissa Harris-Perry, Eric mentions the importance of a human rights based approach to medicine and public health in areas devastated by war as well as the financial investment being made to protect the EMERGENCY staff and hospital from Ebola. The EMERGENCY Surgical Center is the main trauma referral center for the entire country of Sierra Leone and is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Click here to view the interview.
August 7th, 2014
Despite hundreds of cases verified around Sierra Leone and neighboring countries, we have yet to see any patients with the Ebola virus at our surgical center in Goderich, near the capital city of Freetown. But we’re on high alert.
July 22nd, 2014
"Do not enter with weapons"
At the entrance to our hospitals in war zones, signs like this one remind people that a hospital is a place of healthcare, and peace.
That's why we're so shocked by the information arriving from Gaza: 600 dead, thousands of casualties, a hospital that becomes a target for the bombing.
Hitting places of treatment and bombing civilians won't stop the violence.
Stop firing: war will do nothing but lead to another war.
July 16th, 2014
Eight days into Operation "Protective Edge" and there have been 194 deaths, along with more than 1,400 wounded. The bombing hasn't spared schools, orphanages or mosques, or even the hospitals that have actually become a specific target of the attacks.
Over 20,000 people have left their homes, fleeing from the threat of a massacre that they know only too well.
The war began 65 years ago, and still it goes on: violence generates more violence. A new war clearly isn't the solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
We've seen it every single day in our hospitals for the past 20 years: war is never a solution.
In Gaza, as in Kabul, Bangui or Baghdad, war always and only means the crushing of other human beings.
We're asking both sides to adopt an immediate ceasefire for the good of the civilian population, and we're asking the international community to develop a peace process that guarantees full respect of human rights for both Israelis and Palestinians.
We can still decide to give up the idea of war; only respect for the application of rights can stop this descent into violence that we're witnessing.
July 15th, 2014
AFGHANISTAN - ATTACK IN PAKTIKA: 23 WOUNDED BROUGHT TO THE EMERGENCY HOSPITAL IN KABUL
Yesterday the EMERGENCY hospital in Kabul took in 23 people wounded in the morning attack in the province of Paktika, near the Pakistan border: a car bomb exploded in the crowded market, killing 89 people and leaving dozens injured.
The 23 patients (all of them male adults apart from 3 children) had to face a 7-hour journey by ambulance to reach us; an immense length of time, given that the most distant towns our patients generally come from are 4 hours away.
In the afternoon there was shooting less than 1 kilometre from our hospital.
After 13 years of war, up to 130,000 foreign soldiers in the country, and 4.2 billion dollars spent every year for the Afghan security forces (equal to 50% of the local Financial Act), the situation in Afghanistan is worsening day by day.
Attacks and fighting are daily occurrences, and they're getting more and more intense: in the first 6 months of 2014, we saw a 20% increase in the number of war wounded arriving at our hospitals.
EMERGENCY has been working in Afghanistan since 1999, with a Surgical Centre for war victims in Kabul and another in Lashkar-gah (Helmand), a hospital and a Maternity Centre in Anabah (Panjshir Valley), 40 First Aid Posts and Health Centres, and a healthcare assistance program in the prisons of Kabul.
In Afghanistan, EMERGENCY has treated over 3,900,000 people.
May 25th, 2014
I've just returned back to Kabul after spending a few days in Italy, and the situation's exactly as it was when I left a week ago: the hospital is full of wounded people, arriving every day from Kabul and the nearby provinces.
The spring offensive has begun, and you only need to take a look at our hospital registers to see it: all the 95 beds are occupied. The children's ward is full to overflowing: we've been forced to put the boys on the adult wards.
In the first four months of this year, our hospitals in Kabul and Lashkar-gah saw a 37% rise in children admitted for war-related injuries: no one could still have the nerve to call them "side effects."
Luca Radaelli – EMERGENCY Medical Coordinator in Afghanistan
May 5th, 2014
Goderich, Sierra Leone
Below is a photo of the first newborn baby to use the incubator recently donated to us.
His name is Bobo Patrick. He's 3 days old and weighs 2.6kg, and was sent to us from the public paediatric hospital for an omphalocele repair procedure. The operation was carried out this morning, and the patient is now stable in our critical care unit.
Luca Rolla - EMERGENCY Medical Coordinator in Sierra Leone
May 4th, 2014
Bangui, Central African Republic
In these past few weeks, the level of safety in the Central African Republic continues to get worse and worse. The northern part of the country is out of control: despite the presence of the French troops and MISCA, the Anti-balaka and Seleka go on fighting.
Skirmishes are rare in Bangui now, but the crime level is extremely high.
It's hard to predict what could happen.
The EMERGENCY Paediatric Centre is always full to overflowing. The malaria situation is critical: every day we're taking in children in such serious conditions that it's impossible to treat them.
Jules, a 1-year old boy, was brought to our Paediatric Centre by another organisation that works just outside Bangui. He was suffering from a serious form of malaria and needed urgent transfusions, but there was nothing we could do: he was already dead when he reached us.
The photo below is by Catianne Tijerina of a young boy who was lucky enough to reach us in time to be treated.
April 28th, 2014
Bangui, Central African Republic
A convoy of 1,200 Muslims set off today from PK12, 12km from the center of Bangui, heading north.
Despite the tensions, there was no fighting when they departed and the international forces will escort them for the whole journey.
Immediately after they left, people began ransacking the mosque where the refugees had been living for many weeks.
This was one of the largest Muslim communities left in the city after the skirmishes of recent months: the Muslims were one of the main targets for the Anti-balaka militia, particularly after the resignation of president Djotodia last February.
In the rest of the country, the situation is out of control. It's been a bit more stable here in Bangui over the last few weeks, even though there's no let-up at all in some neighbourhoods.
Fighting continues in the Muslim settlements, and the roads are extremely dangerous in the evening due to the presence of militiamen, drifters and run-of-the-mill criminals.
There are too many weapons to be had for the asking, like in every war.
At the Complexe Pédiatrique (the public hospital where our emergency surgery team has been working for over a year now), the patients are mostly children with old wounds never treated, or treated badly: especially outside Bangui, access to medical care - and free care in particular - is always a major problem.
The rainy season has arrived early, so there's been an increase in the number of patients with malaria and problems of the airways. At our Paediatric Centre, there's no end in sight to the emergency situation: the ward, and the tent with its 8 additional beds (put up in the worst days of the war) are always full.
April 24th, 2014
And here we are again: the material's ready, the nurses' training has been completed, the ambulance is ready to go. Time to open: as of today, Tagab - the most bloodstained district of the province of Kapisa in northern Afghanistan - has its own First Aid Post (FAP).
We'd noted the need to have a permanent presence here for some time: all the war casualties that were coming to us in the peaceful village of Anabah came from this area and we knew that the healthcare situation was bad.
That's why, about a year ago, we started setting up some contacts locally. The time since then has flown by with projects, meetings with the local people, preparations and waiting; now the moment has arrived to open the doors.
While we were getting the FAP ready, we received many enthusiastic phone calls from our Afghan colleagues in Tagab: "Everything's going well here. The people are helping us in every way possible; they come to see how the work is coming on, and they thank us. The older people of the village keep asking us when we'll be opening!"
Today, Thursday the 24th of April, the FAP beginnings its work: at last the patients of Tagab and Alasay will have the chance to be treated and, if necessary, transferred by ambulance to our hospital in Anabah as quickly as possible".
Michela, EMERGENCY Nurse in Afghanistan
April 21st, 2014
Bangui, Central African Republic
Pauline arrived at our hospital six weeks ago.
She was in a coma after being struck in the head with a machete during an attack in Boda, one of the area’s most badly hit by the war, 200km from Bangui.
She was alone, brought in by a humanitarian organisation that works in her city. They told us she was an orphan, then said her parents had fled to the forest to escape the fighting, and finally that her mother had left when Pauline was still a baby and she'd been brought up by her father, who'd since disappeared.
Yesterday, we finally found an aunt who came to take her home. Pauline is doing much better; she's put on weight and is always full of life.
Pauline cries though, and she doesn't want to go home. “There are bad men there. I don't want to go”, she says.
In Bangui, safety is improving. There's no more fighting. People have resumed their everyday lives, albeit amid the hardships of a country that was already poor before and is now on its knees due to the effects of the war.
In the provinces, the skirmishes continue and there doesn't appear to be any way out.
April 9th, 2014
The words say "EMERGENCY HOSPITAL". The message is "Don't bomb, please". This is the sign we've put on the roof of our new First Aid Post (FAP) in Urmuz, Afghanistan, to let the pilots of drones and planes know it's a place of medical treatment. To ask for respect for our patients and our personnel. The sign in Urmuz isn't the only one: there are similar signs on the roofs of all our facilities in this country.
We'd dearly love for there to be a huge sign over the whole of Afghanistan: "Don't bomb, please." And for it to be respected.
April 8th, 2014
Bangui, Central African Republic
Two-month old Jaid arrived at the Complexe Pédiatrique on Thursday night, with a machete wound. His family had been attacked by the Anti-balaka while they were sleeping; his mother tried to get him to safety but, as she was running, they were hit. Luckily Jaid isn't in a serious condition.
Marina, EMERGENCY Nurse at the Complexe Pédiatrique in Bangui, Central African Republic
April 7th, 2014
On Saturday, April 5th, 2014 Afghanistan voted for its new President. Unfortunately, in our hospitals, we saw the same old country: full of blood, with the innocent paying the highest price.
During the day, our Lashkar-gah Surgical Centre took in 7 women (one of them pregnant) and 6 children. All of them war victims.
The number of patients at our surgical centre in Kabul was 15, including 4 women and 2 children.
April 3rd, 2014
Bangui, Central African Republic
Bangui and the Central African Republic are still living in a state of uncertainty.
The presence of the Chad military contingent, here to escort Muslim civilians out of Bangui, has increased the level of tension even further.
Far from the capital, the situation is out of control. A few days ago, from a village about 200km away, a 2-year old child arrived at the Complexe Pédiatrique with gunshot wounds. He'd been in the forest with his father when a bullet hit both of them, killing the man and seriously injuring little Dieumerci in the jaw.
The child stayed next to his father's body for some days, alone, without food or medical treatment.
When he arrived at the Complexe Pédiatrique, his condition was precarious but now, after a series of surgical interventions, he's out of danger. Dieumerci's face will remain disfigured forever though.
Federico Bozzetti, EMERGENCY Surgeon at the Complexe Pédiatrique in Bangui
April 1st, 2014
Bangui, Central African Republic
Yesterday and today things seemed quieter in the city center, but shooting continues in the neighbourhoods of PK11 and PK12, day in day out.
On Saturday, soldiers from Chad arrived in the city to evacuate the last citizens from Chad left in the refugee camps.
As they entered the city, they fired on the crowd for no apparent reason: 20 people were killed.
The unexpected arrival of the soldiers from Chad rekindled the anger of the Anti-balaka, and this morning the security committee that oversees all the NGOs recommended we limit all our movements in the northern part of the city because of possible riots linked to the departure of the military convoy.
We're still working hard at our Paediatric Centre and at the Complexe Pédiatrique. The number of children arriving in serious - often incurable - conditions continues to rise.
There's no free healthcare, especially outside the city: the sick and wounded have to face long, demanding journeys to get to our centre.
A mother arrived today with her child: disabled, she'd pedalled 100 kilometres - from Mbaiki to Bangui - on a three-wheeled bike to bring us her daughter who'd been ill for many days.
At 3 o'clock she set off home - another 100km to get back to Mbaiki.
The difficulty in getting access to free treatment leads parents to enlist the help of local healers too: we often have to treat children intoxicated or burnt as a result of traditional "cures".
This is another consequence of poverty and war.
Ombretta, EMERGENCY Program Coordinator Central African Republic
March 28th, 2014
Bangui, Central African Republic
Yesterday was quiet in Bangui but, as usual, the peace lasted less than 24 hours.
This morning we were woken by the sound of far-off shooting: it was coming from Fatima, an area to the south-east of the capital. A Christian wake was targeted by grenades launched by groups of Muslims. It seems there were many wounded and around a dozen killed.
An 11-year old girl arrived at the Complexe Pédiatrique with arm and leg injuries caused by grenade splinters. Her two sisters and her mother are dead.
Now everyone's afraid there'll be a new upsurge of violence and retaliation.
In these conditions, it's very hard for us to get around. After assessing the safety situation today, we decided to go back to the refugee camp as planned, but crossing markets packed with agitated people and seeing overloaded taxis being stopped always creates some anxiety among our staff when they're trying to move around. And the unpredictability of what might happen only adds extra tension.
We examined around ninety children in the camp. Three of them were in a serious condition so we transferred them to the Paediatric Centre where they'll be able to get the necessary treatment.
A pregnant girl told us she'd been raped about 6 months ago; since then she's never received any medical care so we decided to take her to the clinic for a prenatal check-up. Conditions in the camp are hard. The number of inhabitants has doubled in the last few days, reaching a figure of 10,000.
In the Paediatric Centre too, we're still examining lots of children: today there were over 100.
Ombretta, EMERGENCY Program Coordinator Central African Republic
March 27th, 2014
Bangui, Central African Republic
This city and this country are unpredictable.
After days on maximum alert, today the situation seemed calmer: lots of soldiers on the streets and more cars around.
This relative "quiet" meant we were able to get out of the city and see what was happening in one of the refugee camps.
We never know what to expect from one day to the next, so as soon as there's any sign of stability we make the most of it to understand the needs outside the city; in some camps, the presence of health personnel isn't always possible for safety reasons.
As soon as our car approached the camp, hordes of children began running towards us.
We examined around a hundred of them, many suffering from malaria, pneumonia and gastrointestinal infections.
We always come across the same serious illnesses, so common here: it's hard not to get ill if you haven't have a roof over your head, or a mosquito net, or running water. Yesterday's heavy rains didn't help things either.
There were more patients today at the Paediatric Centre too. Among them were twins boys born just a few days ago - one with pneumonia a