Hospital da Luz general surgeon Carlos Ferreira was in one of the poorest and most dangerous countries in the world, South Sudan, for six weeks as part of a humanitarian mission by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Carlos Ferreira was seconded to an ICRC Mobile Surgical Team - a team of doctors and nurses that carries out war surgery in areas classified as battle fronts – and he toured various points of South Sudan where the International Red Cross supports populations who are victims of the civil war that has been ravaging the country for decades. His team, which also included an anaesthetist and two nurses, performed over 140 surgical procedures on wounded civilians and military on both sides of the conflict. 

This was the first mission in which Carlos Ferreira took part. Before he could become part of one of the ICRC Mobile Surgical Teams, the Hospital da Luz surgeon was subjected to a rigorous selection and training process, which lasted almost a year.

During missions, the ICRC oversees all the work of its volunteers, whose final assessment is crucial to being picked for further missions. Carlos Ferreira, meanwhile, has received new offers for future missions of the same type.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), based in Geneva, Switzerland, is a humanitarian institution with 150 years of service, and has received the Nobel Peace Prize three times (1917, 1944 and 1963). Its mission is to protect the victims of armed conflict, including the wounded, prisoners and civilian refugees, and promote respect for international humanitarian law, human rights, the protection of civilians, the monitoring of detainees, the eradication of mines, economic security, family bonds, the availability of water and food, adequate housing and health. War surgery is the responsibility of Mobile Surgical Teams which are part of ICRC missions when local systems cannot provide care for those wounded in action.

South Sudan is one of the countries where the International Red Cross has a particularly important role. This is the youngest independent nation in the world, whose independence was recognised by the United Nations in 2011. Although rich in oil, South Sudan remains one of the poorest countries in the world. More than 80% of the population have no access to basic health services, education or sanitation. Since 1980, when the civil war broke out, this region has experienced permanent armed conflict, causing the displacement of millions of people and thousands of deaths and injuries from war.

Carlos Ferreira, 43 years old, has specialised in general surgery since 2008 and has been a part of the Department of General Surgery team at the Hospital da Luz since 2010.