Every year we publish an Activity Report, giving up-to-date details of our programmes, a short description of each hospital and data regarding patients' treatment
The circle and the line
Introduction to the 2016 Activity Report, by Cecilia Strada
Three red lines in a circle. The EMERGENCY logo is simple – as simple as the principle we put into practice every day: helping those in need. That red line, born from the urgent need to provide medical treatment for the wounded –ninety percent of whom are civilians – began adorning the white walls of surgical wards for war victims in 1994. But emergency treatment alone wasn’t enough. We just couldn’t accept the idea of discharging seriously injured men, women and children from our hospitals who would never be able to look after themselves again or perform the most simple everyday tasks. And so we started making arm and leg prostheses to get them back on their feet.
Meanwhile, as each day went by, our initial conception of war victim broadened out to include not only those torn apart by mines, bullets, bombs and car bombs, but also those with any kind of medical problem who were unable to get to a doctor because it would mean ending up in a combat zone and risking being robbed or kidnapped and not getting home again. Or those who didn’t have a hospital to go to because usually, where there’s a war, fighting takes precedence over building hospitals.
And so the red line led out from the walls of war surgery wards to outlying First Aid Posts and Health Centres, to places where there was nowhere else for patients to go and where, if you didn’t get killed stepping on a landmine, you could end up dying of pneumonia, malaria or from childbirth. And then, while we were doing all this, we began to ask ourselves: “Is this really all that they have a right to?” or rather, “If it was our health at stake, or that of our loved ones, would it be enough?”. And this question led the red line to the walls of free regional Cardiac Surgery Centre in Africa.
And in the meantime, looking out of our office window in Italy, we saw more and more people needing a helping hand to access medical treatment or registering or re-registering with the national health service and so – more than ten years ago – the red line started leading out to clinics, social-healthcare orientation centres and mobile clinics in the countryside and cities of southern and northern Italy. Those clinics and centres are now busy day after day doing one simple thing: helping those in need.
But perhaps the finest thing about the logo is the circle. Because for a circle to exist everybody in it needs to play their part. One of the most important lessons I have learned over these years from EMERGENCY is that by simply getting on with the job together, each to the best of their abilities, we’ve been able to treat eight million people, almost without realising it.