Toamasina, Republic of Madagascar, August 31, 2015: The hospital ship Africa Mercy, operated by Mercy Ships, has 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 specialized surgeries and healthcare services to the world’s fourth-largest island nation.
The 16,500-ton Africa Mercy, the world’s largest civilian hospital ship, returns to Madagascar to provide life-changing healthcare and training.
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 1269 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.”
Mercy Ships screening supervisor Mirjam Plomp with children at the Antananarivo patient screening site.
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. The crew from more than 35 nations will provide surgical and dental services to Madagascar’s population of nearly 23 million.
In addition to offering mentorship and further training to Malagasy healthcare professionals, a permanent women’s health clinic will be opened in Toamasina in September. From mid-2016 onwards, the clinic will be run by The Freedom from Fistula Foundation. This partner organization already manages three other such clinics in Africa – including one in Freetown, Sierra Leone, which was also initially set up by Mercy Ships.
During the Africa Mercy’s nine-month stay in the port of Toamasina, Republic of Madagascar, Mercy Ships plans to provide more than 2,000 surgeries to adult and pediatric patients onboard, to treat over 10,000 at a land-based dental clinic, and to provide holistic healthcare training to Malagasy healthcare professionals.
ABOUT MERCY SHIPS:
Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class healthcare services, capacity building and sustainable development to those without access in the developing world. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $1 billion, treating more than 2.43 million direct beneficiaries. Each year Mercy Ships has more than 1,600 volunteers from more than 40 nations. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, healthcare trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort. Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time.
For more information click on www.mercyships.org or view a selection of short videos on YouTube or Vimeo, entering ‘Mercy Ships’.
International Media Manager
Hi-res photos and general Mercy Ships B-Roll video footage are available upon request.