I am always moved and impressed by the way in which Mercy Ships use hospital ships to deliver free, world-class healthcare services to those without access in the developing world.
Each year Mercy Ships has circa 1,600 volunteers from more than 40 nations. These include surgeons, dentists, nurses, healthcare trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers and agriculturists.
On August 31st 2015, the hospital ship Africa Mercy docked in the port city of Toamasina, Madagascar to begin a second season of service. Over the next nine months, Mercy Ships will provide free specialised surgeries and healthcare services to the world’s fourth-largest island nation.
The Africa Mercy returns after a two-month hiatus for annual maintenance in Durban, South Africa, and was welcomed into port by a crowd of well-wishers. The world’s largest civilian hospital ship will build on its prior seven-month visit in which 1,269 surgeries were provided free of charge.
Robin MacAlpine, Managing Director for the Africa Mercy, says, “Mercy Ships is pleased to offer even more free healthcare services to Madagascar in the months ahead. We are working hard to make this care widely available to people in even the most remote regions. Selection teams will be accessing patients in eleven localities nationwide until February, 2016.”
MacAlpine took the opportunity to express gratitude for the Mercy Ships Patient Transportation Fund and launch of the Premium SMS number 353, a partnership initiative led by the three major Malagasy telecommunications companies: Orange, Telma and Airtel. “These mobile telephone companies have united in an inaugural humanitarian partnership in Madagascar. We are very grateful for the support of these companies in bringing healing to thousands of their fellow citizens. We also thank all the Malagasy who have risen up to help contribute to patients’ transportation costs through this initiative.”
Over half of the 400-plus volunteer crew members are returning to Madagascar after serving onboard during the previous season of service. They will work alongside around 280 Malagasy, most of whom are re-employed to assist in operational, medical and maritime areas.