The enormous wealth of Sierra Leone's mines has been more a burden than an opportunity to its development. A bloody war, fought with machetes (often wielded by child soldiers), caused at least 75,000 deaths (out of a total population of 4½ million), the deliberate mutilation of many more thousands of people, and forced the migration of two thirds of the population to neighbouring Guinea and Liberia.
The civil war completely destroyed the country’s health care infrastructure: the infant mortality rate, which until 2005 was the highest in the world, is caused for the most part by malaria, diarrhoea and common infections. In 2001, EMERGENCY began a programme for war victims in Goderich, a village in the Freetown suburbs; due to the evident needs, the Centre widened its admissions criteria to include orthopaedic patients and all surgical emergencies.
In 2002, EMERGENCY built a Paediatric Outpatients Department next to the hospital, which mainly offers treatment for malaria, anaemia and respiratory infections.
Since 2001 EMERGENCY has treated over 464,801 people in Sierra Leone.