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.
In 2001, EMERGENCY opened a Surgical Centre in Goderich, on the outskirts of Freetown, the country’s capital. The Centre provides free high quality treatment in orthopaedics, trauma and emergency surgery. The following year, EMERGENCY opened a Paediatric Centre next to the Surgical Centre which guaranteed treatment for those under the age of 14. The child mortality rate in Sierra Leone is one of the highest in the world: malaria, malnutrition, respiratory and gastrointestinal infections are the main causes of death among children up to 5 years of age.
EMERGENCY international staff members are also committed to training local personnel: EMERGENCY’s Surgical Centre has been recognised as a training institution for anaesthetist nurses by the Ministry of Health of Sierra Leone.