Following a recrewing effort, the hospital ship, Africa Mercy®, has now departed from the Port of East London for service within the nation of Madagascar for the next ten months.
During the eight-month refit in Durban’s Dormac Shipyard, the ship underwent extensive repairs and maintenance to prolong and improve the vessel’s service life and quality of medical services.
Highlights of the Africa Mercy’s® refurbishment included an information technology (IT) upgrade enhancing the ship’s operating theatre functionality and performance by enabling seamless coordination between the Africa Mercy® and Mercy Ships’ latest hospital ship, the Global Mercy™, currently serving the nation of Sierra Leone in West Africa. Upgrades will support the provision of essential training for local doctors, fostering the development of in-country healthcare professionals. Additional improvements included the modernization of the galley, upgrades to the elevator system, and remodeling of several cabin spaces, enabling the ship’s community to better serve those in need of surgical care.
Brenda van Straten, Director, Mercy Ships, South Africa, says: “The refit was part of a broader five-year initiative to ensure that the Africa Mercy® can continue the provision of life-changing surgeries and training over the next decade. In parallel with the Ship’s refurbishment, Mercy Ships conducted eight Safer Anesthetics from Education (SAFE) courses in South Africa this past year, impacting 236 health professionals in the region.”
The courses in South Africa focused on rural and state hospitals where junior doctors were in vital need of practical approaches to managing their patients. A total of 58 South African anesthetists partnered with Mercy Ships to provide the training.
The ship’s service in Madagascar is part of a five-year investment in Education, Training, and Advocacy efforts in combination with a surgical schedule, including maxillofacial and ENT, general, pediatric specialized general, pediatric orthopedic, reconstructive plastics, ophthalmic, women’s health, as well as dental care.
“Madagascar faces a shortage of surgical support from both local and international partners, especially in the most vulnerable areas. We appreciate Mercy Ships’ approach to reaching underserved communities. As we open 28 district hospitals, each requiring at least two surgeons, we look forward to collaborating with Mercy Ships to strengthen our surgical capacity,” shared Dr. Lethicia Lydia Yasmine, secretary general for the Ministry of Health, Madagascar.
A 2016 study found that only 20% of the population can access surgical services within two hours, and up to 95% of the population would face financial ruin if they required surgery. With approximately 20 physicians for every 100,000 people, surgical treatment feels out of reach for many.
The ten-month field service will be the fourth visit since 1996, with the most recent in 2015-2016. Over these three previous field services, Mercy Ships worked with the government and the Ministry of Health to provide 6,425 surgical procedures and over 52,000 dental procedures. In addition to providing life-changing surgical and dental care, Mercy Ships has a historic focus on education having trained a total of 2,019 healthcare professionals in Madagascar to date.
Mercy Ships still has open volunteer roles for project directors, a clinical training coordinator, informatics specialists, as well as ward nurses, IT professionals, cooks, teachers, plumbers, and electricians. For more information visit www.MercyShips.co.za
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Mercy Ships.
Hi-res photos and general Mercy Ships B-Roll video footage are available upon request.
About Mercy Ships:
Mercy Ships operates hospital ships that deliver free surgeries and other healthcare services to those with little access to safe medical care. An international faith-based organization, Mercy Ships has focused entirely on partnering with African nations for the past three decades. Working with in-country partners, Mercy Ships also provides training to local healthcare professionals and supports the construction of in-country medical infrastructure to leave a lasting impact.
Each year, more than 3,000 volunteer professionals from over 60 countries serve on board the world’s two largest non-governmental hospital ships, the Africa Mercy® and the Global Mercy™. Professionals such as surgeons, dentists, nurses, health trainers, cooks, and engineers dedicate their time and skills to accelerate access to safe surgical, obstetric and anesthetic care. Mercy Ships was founded in 1978 and has offices in 16 countries as well as an Africa Service Center in Dakar, Senegal. For more information, visit MercyShips.org and follow @MercyShips on social media.