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
A growing commitment
Introduction to the 2017 Activity Report, by Rossella Miccio President of Emergency
When on 19 April 2007 we carried out our first open-heart surgery at the Salam Centre in Khartoum, none of us could have imagined what significant results we would achieve ten years later. We have treated over 7,000 patients from 28 different countries, completely free of charge, and shown that a different way of practising healthcare in Africa is possible. We have been able to guarantee excellent clinical results and keep treatment going constantly despite limited resources and long distances. We have overcome political, linguistic and cultural barriers to create an open, welcoming facility where we can practise equality by granting every individual dignity and human rights.
In 2017, building work finally began on our second Centre of Excellence, in Entebbe, Uganda, on the banks of Lake Victoria. This Centre will be for paediatric surgery, but its approach will be the same as the Salam’s: equality, quality of treatment, free access and a commitment to staff training will be our guiding principles in this fresh challenge.
While working to get the building site up and running in Uganda, we found ourselves forced to reorganise another of our hospitals. Handing over control of the hospital that we’d built and run for eight years in Erbil, Iraq, had been a success story for us, but 12 years later we were invited back by the local healthcare authorities. The war against ISIS, the latest to hit the region, had destroyed all the previous ten years’ efforts, beginning with the healthcare system. In the months we’ve been working in Erbil we’ve seen the proof, if any more were needed, that the only realities in war are the victims: in this case, the thousands of wounded people coming from Mosul. For almost a year, not one hospital in Mosul was able to meet the needs of the city’s population. Today, in the liberated city, reconstruction is taking place extremely slowly, at nothing like the speed necessary. We therefore decided to continue our support for victims of war with a special rehabilitation and prosthesis production programme at the EMERGENCY Centre in Sulaymaniyah, for the countless people who have lost arms or legs in the war.
The principles and values that guide our daily work, which we thought were universally shared, were now being questioned. In 2017, we noticed a growing intolerance towards the people coming to Europe for safety and refuge. This intolerance has led to what can only be described as a criminalisation, not only of migrants but also anyone trying to help them, be they individuals or organisations. It was within this hostile climate that we stepped up our efforts to help migrants and vulnerable people across Italy, from Sicily to the outskirts of Milan, from the countryside of the Pontine Marshes to earthquake-stricken Marche.
We also tried to do more to promote our fundamental social values, as well as the importance of having reciprocal respect and recognising every human being’s right to dignity. We spread this message in schools, in universities, at events, through all the channels of communication we have. We have been able to count on the passion and support of hundreds of thousands of people, who believed in EMERGENCY and made the choice to stand with our workers around the world.
My – our – thanks are due to all those who’ve decided to join us on this path, and given up part of their time, put their skills at our disposal or supported us financially.
The challenges facing us are ever-growing and increasingly complex. Yet the responsibility of representing the will of so many people drives us to put more and more effort into meeting the needs of the vulnerable, and show that there is another way for us all to live together. This way is not just possible but essential.