ANTANARIVO, MADAGASCAR, SEPTEMBER 25, 2023 – Recent meetings between the Ministry of Health and Mercy Ships have furthered planning for the hospital ship Africa Mercy to return to Madagascar in early February. Initially, Mercy Ships plans to dock the 16,572 GT Africa Mercy in the port of Toamasina.
During the field service, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the ship’s medical professionals, and teams will aim to provide more than 1,150 free specialized surgeries as well as targeted training for healthcare professionals.
Mercy Ships has already embarked on the beginning of a 5-year country engagement plan that further strengthens the partnership between Mercy Ships and the people of Madagascar, with the development of local partners, and completion of an initial programmatic assessment.
Dr. Lethicia Lydia Yasmine, Secretary General for the Ministry of Health, Madagascar said:
“Madagascar faces a shortage of surgical support from both local and international partners, especially in the most vulnerable areas. We appreciate Mercy Ships’ approach in 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.”
Esperant Mulumba, Country Director for Mercy Ships in Madagascar, said: “We are very grateful to the government of Madagascar for welcoming us back to continue our partnership to deliver hope and healing to those who need it most.
“Mercy Ships has a long and successful relationship with Madagascar, with our last field service in 2015. We are very thankful that we are able to partner with them again to transform more lives through surgery and training.”
This would be the fourth time that a Mercy Ship has visited the port of Toamasina since 1996. Mercy Ships’ program strategy is being carefully aligned with the country’s current strategic healthcare plan.
These initiatives aim to provide equitable access to medical care, extending beyond the inhabitants of Toamasina to individuals across the entire island. The organization is also committed to covering travel expenses, ensuring that even those in remote areas can benefit from this service.
The life-changing surgeries delivered will include tumor removal, cleft lip and palate correction, cataract removal, orthopedic and reconstructive plastic surgery, and dental care.
Patients with these specific concerns will be encouraged to attend screening days to receive appointments for their specific surgical needs. Patient selection teams are preparing to assess and register patients in multiple locations, in preparation for the ship’s arrival.
The actual surgical procedures will begin in February 2024. In addition to the surgeries, the care includes post-operative consultations and psychosocial support to facilitate patients’ reintegration into their communities.
According to Nantenaina Rakotonirina, mayor of the urban commune of Toamasina, the city is also preparing to accommodate patients, emphasizing the collaborative nature of this initiative to provide comprehensive care.
In collaboration with national and international partners, Mercy Ships will provide education and training across the surgical ecosystem. The emphasis of these programs will be on surgery, nursing, biomedical, sterile processing, and anesthesia. The five-year partnership in total, including follow-up after the ship leaves, will focus on strengthening the surgical care system by investing in Madagascan healthcare professionals who will impact this nation for years to come.
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.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
U.S. National Media Relations Director
Country Director, Mercy Ships Madagascar
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +261 38 54 128 45
Hi-res photos and general Mercy Ships B-Roll video footage are available upon request.