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Global Organization Spotlight: EMERGENCY International Salam Center

Monday, December 5, 2022



In 2007, the Italian-based charity EMERGENCY International opened its Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery, which remains the only completely free cardiac hospital in an area home to more than 300 million people. The center is situated on the outskirts of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and remains one of very few facilities across the African continent offering highly specialized and free treatment to patients suffering from acquired and congenital cardiovascular diseases. 

Patients operated on at the Salam Centre suffer primarily from valvular conditions as a consequence of rheumatic fever. Aggressive disease is seen at a young age, with 56 percent of patients requiring surgery before the age of twenty-six. While in wealthier regions, rheumatic fever has been effectively eradicated and affects only 1 in every 100,000 people, the incidence rate in Sudan is 1 in every 1,000 people. This marked contrast is linked to poverty, limited hygiene infrastructure, and a lack of healthcare facilities. 

The African Network of Medical Excellence (ANME) is an innovative model of humanitarian healthcare designed by EMERGENCY, with multinational support from the Health Ministries of the Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda. The aim of ANME is to develop an integrated network of medical centers of excellence on the African continent. The Salam Centre was the first of these centers, and it sits at the heart of ANME. Thanks to the Regional Program for Cardiac Surgery—and in collaboration with numerous local authorities—EMERGENCY’s international team of cardiologists identify patients from a vast area who require transfer to Khartoum for urgent cardiac surgery, and guarantee the necessary follow-up care for patients who have already been operated on.  

One of the goals of the project is to foster stronger relationships between the countries involved through reciprocal healthcare collaboration in a region marked by decades of conflict. The hospital is named to reflect this aim: salam is the Arabic word for “peace.” Patients from thirty countries have undergone surgery at the Salam Centre, including Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, the Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

EMERGENCY collaborates closely with the Sudanese Ministry of Health, and the Sudanese Medical Specialization Board has authorized the Salam Centre to educate cardiologists, intensive care nurses, anesthesiologists, cardiac surgeons, and specialist theater nurses. The Sudanese government provides a financial contribution that covers a considerable part of the running costs of the hospital, but the overarching cost is shouldered by EMERGENCY International through charitable donations.

The Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery and ANME program collectively embody EMERGENCY’s humanitarian ethos: a vision of human rights-based healthcare centered on the principles of equality, quality, and social responsibility (EQS). The Salam Centre provides—completely free of charge and available to all—medical and surgical care according to the most advanced international standards and making use of the latest innovations, while concurrently working to promote the autonomy of the Sudanese national healthcare system. 

Learn more about job opportunities at the Salam Center.


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