“We are very sad because our numbers are skyrocketing,” said Dejan Panic, who runs the 91-bed EMERGENCY hospital here. The number of admitted trauma patients has increased by 20 percent this year, and so has the severity of the injuries, Mr. Panic said. The hospital recently built an underground bunker for staff and patients, in case the violence brings the sort of bombings that happened in Kunduz.
“Since this morning there has been ongoing fighting in Grishk, a village in the Helmand province. At EMERGENCY’s Surgical Center in Lashkar-gah, capital of the Province, we have been receiving many casualties from our First Aid Post in the village. At present, fourteen patients have been admitted, two others have been treated as outpatients, and we have been informed that two are being transferred. The majority of the injuries are very serious and appear to have been sustained by sniper fire. The hospital is getting full and we have started using the playroom as a ward to increase capacity,” says Luca, EMERGENCY’s Program Coordinator in Afghanistan.
“Fatooma was discharged from our Salam Center for Cardiac Surgery in Sudan a few days ago. Before leaving the hospital, she took the box of colored pens and the sheets of paper that we’d given her, and carefully put them in her “suitcase”. The smile on her face was full of hope.
When she came to us, her heart was beating so fast that it seemed to want to leap out of her chest. It was too late to try any pharmacological treatment: she’d been suffering from a strep throat that had been gradually damaging her heart as well, to the extent of destroying the valves. All this was caused by a rheumatic fever – an illness that strikes approximately 5 per 100,000 children in the United States, and can easily be cured. But in these countries, in the grip of poverty and war, it affects up to 100 people in 100,000, especially children between the ages of 5 and 15. All this because nobody had given her antibiotics; and yet just a simple pill would have been enough to prevent all this damage.
Luckily, with a surgical operation we were able to repair her heart valve without having to replace it with a mechanical one. So Fatooma can now go back to her home in West Darfur, grow up healthy, go to school, and stay with her parents.”
–Daniela, EMERGENCY NGO cardiologist in Sudan
“Monday is the “big round” day here at the EMERGENCY NGO hospital in Goderich, Sierra Leone. I follow Enrico (our international orthopedic surgeon) and Kambai (our Sierraleonese physician) in their visit to all our patients: they discharge those who have improved and can go home, they plan the surgical operations, they stabilize and follow-up the post-op patients.
We start from the kids. Mammoud immediately catches my attention; I have already seen him going around the hospital in these days, and I have been wondering what happened to him.
Mammoud has been here since last September. He was playing in his backyard when unfortunately he fell directly into the fire that was set up for cooking. Half of his face is now covered by bandages, but on the other half you can see him smiling. He is curious, he feels at home in the hospital, and he has already made a lot of friends. He lost one eye, but he is not completely blind. Our doctors were able to save his sight and heal his burns. This is an impressive result, considering that being a disabled person in Sierra Leone often means marginalization and poor livelihood.
Mammoud still has a long and happy life in front of him.”
— Laura, EMERGENCY staff
While the Ebola emergency is officially over in Sierra Leone, the epidemic has severely weakened an already struggling national health system. The need for health care support is still huge. This is why a few months ago EMERGENCY opened a new First Aid Post (FAP) in Lokomasama, Sierra Leone. The hospital offers free first aid treatment for people living in the countryside, where access to healthcare is extremely difficult.
National and International staff there are working 24/7 to guarantee high-quality and free-of-charge services; while Health Promoters are visiting the surrounding villages to inform people about the new centre and our activities.
Connecting the hospital with local communities is very important: it ensures people are informed about the possibility to receive free-of-charge healthcare, a quite unusual thing in Sierra Leone. Local Health Promoters, trained by EMERGENCY, are vital to provide people with basic information about healthcare and, most of all, to invite them into the hospital in case of injuries or accident. Gaining the trust of people from rural villages is fundamental to do our job properly. Local staff plays a key role in raising awareness about our commitment.