Gino Strada is an Italian surgeon who, for 28 years, has been providing humanitarian relief to the victims of war and poverty, and refugees around the world.
He began his career as a war surgeon with the International Committee of the Red Cross (IRCR) in 1989, and in 1994 founded the international humanitarian organization called EMERGENCY. EMERGENCY’s mandate is to provide high quality, free medical and surgical care to the victims of war, landmines and poverty. Over the years, EMERGENCY has been working in 17 countries, building and managing hospitals, Medical and Surgical Centres, Rehabilitation Centres, Paediatric Clinics, Primary Health Clinics, a Maternity Centre and a Centre for Cardiac Surgery. EMERGENCY is currently working in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Iraq, Italy, Sierra Leone and Sudan.
In Afghanistan, EMERGENCY runs two surgical centres for war victims in Kabul and Lashkar-gah and one hospital in Anabah (Panjshir Valley), which includes a maternity centre. In 2007, EMERGENCY established the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery, a Centre of Excellence in Sudan (Africa) providing free high-quality heart surgery to patients with acquired or congenital heart diseases. The Centre is the hub of a Regional Program for Cardiac Surgery and has received patients coming from 27 countries. At the Centre, EMERGENCY has performed more than 6,500 surgeries, and more than 56,000 cardiac examinations. The centre received world-class ratings for its work.
Since 2009, EMERGENCY has operated the only free-of-charge paediatric hospital in the Central African Republic. In 2014, when the Ebola virus (EVD) spread in West Africa, EMERGENCY established a 100-bed Ebola Treatment Centre in Goderich, Freetown, in cooperation with the British Cooperation.
The Centre, equipped with a 24-bed Intensive Care Unit, set up a revolutionary approach for the treatment of Ebola in West Africa. Since July 2014, EMERGENCY has also been very active in response to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, where it operates 6 primary healthcare centres in refugee and IDP camps. Since 2006, EMERGENCY has been running a widespread program in Italy to respond to the increasing needs of the migrant population from the landings at the Sicilian ports to urban ghettos and countryside shantytowns.
EMERGENCY cooperates with the United Nations to effectively respond to the needs of the population in danger. In 2008, EMERGENCY became an official partner of the United Nations Office of Public Information, and, since 2015, has obtained a special status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
Taking the lead in protecting the dignity of human rights by guaranteeing the “right to be cured”
Gino Strada has actively promoted the value of peace, solidarity, and human rights, providing high quality, free of charge treatment without discrimination, in the firm belief that "the right to be cured" is a basic and inalienable right of all people.
In Africa, where there is little awareness of the availability of health care, his focus is on spreading the perception that health care supports the basic human right to live like human beings and that the state should take the lead. Through his active efforts, the governments of 11 African nations (Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda) have signed EMERGENCY's "Manifesto for a Human Rights-based Medicine" (a medical declaration of human rights) that recognizes "the right of people to receive medical treatment" and will make efforts to provide health care services free of charge.
In 2007, Dr. Strada established the first of the 11 Centres of Medical Excellence in Khartoum (Sudan), the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery. Building on the experience of the Salam Centre, in 2010, 11 countries adhered to the African Network of Medical Excellence (ANME), a project aiming at building Centres of Medical Excellence to strengthen National Heath Systems with a regional perspective.
This network hopes to promote and build peaceful relations in the region thanks an enduring cooperation in the medical sector. The construction works of the second centre, a Regional Hospital for Paediatric Surgery in Uganda, are about to start and are planned to end in December 2018.
EMERGENCY medical staff provides free medical and surgical care to all those in need without discrimination respecting three key principles: "equality," "high quality health care," and "social responsibility". EMERGENCY also provides thoroughly medical education and training to the national staff with the goal of handing over its facilities to local health authorities, whenever operational and clinical autonomy are fully achieved.
Leading the peace culture with "anti-war" and "prohibition of production of anti-personnel landmines" campaigns
Gino Strada is engaged in anti-war movements with a solid moral and political position that war must be abolished on the grounds that war tramples human dignity and life. As such, it cannot be justified for any reason.
In 1997, Gino Strada, who over decades has seen civilian casualties and human misery caused by land mines in conflict zones, enthusiastically campaigned to ban the production of mines in Italy, successfully achieved in 1998. In addition, he strongly opposed and campaigned against Italy's intervention in the war in Afghanistan in 2001, and in Iraq in 2003. In 2002, EMERGENCY organized a massive campaign with the support of half a million people protesting against the war.
In 2003, as the war in Afghanistan worsened and Iraq began, EMERGENCY started a mobilisation of the civil society and collected signatures for the anti-war movement, asking government groups to stop the fire “before hatred and violence become the only language of mankind."
The appeal was signed by world-renowned figures including MIT Professor Noam Chomsky, Le Monde newspaper Diplomatic editor Ignacio Ramonet, Former President of Italy (1992-1999) Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchù, 1986 Nobel Prize winner in Medicine Rita Levi Montalcini, 1997 Nobel Prize winner in Literature Dario Fo, and 1988 Nobel Prize winner in Physics Jack Steinberger, among others.
When, after intervening in the war, the Italian Foreign Ministry offered support to EMERGENCY's hospitals in Afghanistan, Dr. Strada declined the proposal stating that EMERGENCY could not receive funding from the Italian Government, which was actively contributing to the war.
Dr. Gino Strada is appealing to the world that, "In order to guarantee a peaceful future for mankind, war, which denies the human rights necessary for survival, should disappear, and the best thing the present generation can do for future generations is to work together to make a world without war."