International Symposium (IS) on Strengthening Surgical, Obstetric and Anaesthetic Care Systems in Africa by 2030 

« It is a privilege and an honour to welcome in Senegal Mercy Ships’ new ship, the Global Mercy, the largest civilian hospital ship in the world.

This event will coincide with other activities such as a symposium based on the challenges of surgical and obstetric care in Africa. Experts will intervene on the 2020-30 vision for surgery in Africa and the issues at stake. We will also have the opportunity to host Heads of State of nearly 14 countries where Mercy Ships has offered its services.

The cooperation with Mercy Ships is just beginning and we are very pleased to contribute to the fundraising efforts. I invite Africans to fully participate in any activity that promotes solidarity and assistance. I believe some have already done so, but we need everyone to embrace this vision. »    

Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal – Dakar, February 12, 2021 

The Mercy Ships Africa Celebration commemorates more than 30 years of life-changing partnership. Together, we are building the future of surgical care in Africa.

Organized by the government of Senegal and Mercy Ships, under the high patronage of H.E Macky SALL, President of the Republic of Senegal.

1,962

Professionals trained

16,489

Dental procedures

1,957

Surgeries

Introduction 

Over the past three decades, the African continent has made steady progress in improving public health, despite disparities between regions, countries and within countries. Africa’s exponential economic growth and development, and the additional significant contribution of global health initiatives, have facilitated this progress. 

In Africa, some progress has been made in health, including a 37% decline in mortality rates between 2000 and 2015. However, Africa’s overall performance still lags in other health indicators. The continent does not yet appear to be on track to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3 “health for all and promotion of well-being for all at all ages”. 

Africa alone bears 25% of the global burden of disease and 1/3 of the world’s clinical conditions requiring emergency care and essential surgical, obstetric and anesthetic services (EESOACS). Africa, home to 17% of the world’s population, has only 2% of the world’s doctors and only 0.7 surgical specialists per 100,000 people. 

Every year, 16.9 million people worldwide die due to lack of access to surgical care and 93% of sub-Saharan Africa still lacks access. Surgery has been a neglected component of health care for people on the African continent. Equitable integration of surgical and anesthetic care remains the key challenge to strengthening health systems and achieving universal health coverage in Africa. 

Founded in 1978 by Deyon and Don Stephens, Mercy Ships is an international non-governmental organization that provides safe, quality surgical and medical care to the most vulnerable populations who have no or limited access. 

Since 1990, motivated by the values of excellence, integrity and love, Mercy Ships has been bringing hope and healing to the underprivileged people on the African continent. 

In order to promote surgery, a neglected specialty of the health systems, Mercy Ships has served fourteen African countries (Benin, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Republic of Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Madagascar, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Togo). From 1990 to 2020, the NGO with its hospital ships “Anastasis” and “Africa Mercy” has carried out more than thirty humanitarian missions offering its services and equipment valued at more than 1.7 billion US dollars. It has performed more than 105,000 free surgeries, treated nearly 200,000 dental patients and trained more than 49,000 health professionals and community development workers. 

Mercy Ships programmes include (1) free maxillofacial, reconstructive, plastic, general, obstetric, ophthalmic, orthopedic and dental surgeries as well as palliative care (2) training, mentoring and capacity building of health professionals, operating room work, maintenance of medical and surgical equipment and nutrition, (3) renovation and equipping of health facilities. 

Mercy Ships is continually strengthening its partnerships with African countries and stakeholders in the African health sector to better serve the people. 

Following the signing of a long-term “Accord de Siege” cooperation agreement in September 2019, the Senegalese government and Mercy Ships have jointly implemented a 2019 – 2023 Country Engagement Plan to contribute to the second pillar of the “Plan Senegal Emergent”. It aims to promote the human capital with a significant improvement in the well-being of the population and a more sustained fight against social inequalities. The Government of Senegal and Mercy Ships share a common vision based on learning from the past to build a better future.  

As Mercy Ships celebrates its 30th anniversary in Africa (1990/91 -2021/22), the humanitarian organization wishes to take a further step in its engagement with its African partners. 

International Symposium (IS) on Strengthening Surgical, Obstetric and Anaesthetic Care Systems in Africa by 2030 

The International Symposium is placed under the very high patronage of H.E. Mr. Macky SALL, President of the Republic of Senegal and under the chairmanship of Mr. Abdoulaye Diouf SARR, Minister of Health of Senegal.   

The International Symposium is organized by the Government of Senegal and Mercy Ships in partnership with the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa, the West African College of Surgeons and the international non-governmental organization Smile Train.

Regional and international partners with established and recognized credibility in the field of global surgery are affiliated at the scientific level: the College of Surgeons of Eastern, Central and Southern Africa, the World Surgery Organization Lifebox, the Program on Global Surgery and Social Change at Harvard University, the Center for Global Surgery at McGill University in Canada, and the Institute for Global Surgery in Ireland.

The International Symposium (IS) is organized by a steering committee composed of: 

Chair: Mr Abdoulaye Diouf SARR, Minister of Health of Senegal

Vice-Chair: Mr Gert VAN DE WEERDHOF, CEO of Mercy Ships

Vice-Chair: Pr Peter DONKOR, President of the West African College of Surgeons

Vice-Chair: Pr Serigne Magueye GUEYE, Managing Director of the Franco-Senegalese Campus

Members: Dr Hyppolite KALAMBAY of the WHO Regional Office for Africa and Mrs Obi NKEIRUKA Vice-President and Regional Director for Africa of Smile Train 

Executive Director: Dr Pierre M’PELE, Mercy Ships Regional Director for Africa

An International Scientific Committee coordinates all scientific aspects of the symposium. It is composed of:

  • Chair: Pr Emmanuel AMEH, President of the Scientific Committee of the Annual Scientific Conferences of the West African College of Surgeons, Nigeria. 
  • Vice-Chair: Representative of the WHO Regional Office for Africa: Dr Tarcisse ELONGO and his deputy Pr Jean Baptiste NIKIEMA  
  • Scientific facilitator: Dr Justina SEYI-OLAJIDE, Nigeria.

25 recognized African and international scientists are members of this committee.

The International Symposium is a unique opportunity to create (i) a continental roadmap for improving investment in strengthening access to surgical, obstetric and anaesthesia care in Africa by 2030 in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and in particular the goal on Health and (ii) the Dakar Declaration to be adopted by the African Heads of State, to promote and strengthen national surgical, anaesthetic, obstetric and nursing care systems and to improve the surgical ecosystem as a neglected component of health systems.

This roadmap will be the result of (i) the assessment of the situation of surgical, obstetric and anaesthesia care in Africa with the identification of gaps, and (ii) the elaboration of a list of priorities, to be submitted to the African Heads of State, from an Action Plan focusing on concrete actions and investments [prioritized, streamlined, budgeted and achievable with the commitment of public and private partners] to change the situation for the achievement of the Health SDG N°3 by 2030 and (iii) a strategy for implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Action Plan.

The International Symposium will take place in three stages from March to May 2022 as follows: 

  • Pre-conference meeting at the Annual Conference
    of West African College of Surgeons
    10-11 March 2022 | Monrovia, Liberia
  • Expert scientific meeting
    21-22 March 2022 | Dakar, Senegal
  • Ministerial Summit
    5 May 2022 | Dakar, Senegal

Benin’s First Reconstructive Plastic Surgeon

In West Africa, it’s rare that medical professionals have the opportunity to gain advanced training, practice on the newest technology, and liaise with experts in their field – it’s one reason so many doctors leave for Europe, Australia, or the States. “It’s not that it’s hard to keep your skills updated here,” comments Amy Jones, Project Manager for the Mercy Ships Medical Capacity Building (MCB) Team, “It’s impossible.”

But for Benin’s first reconstructive plastic surgeon, Dr. Odry Agbessi, staying in Benin is a must – surgeons may leave, but patients cannot. Though faced with numerous obstacles, Dr. Odry’s dedication to helping her people pushes her onward.

Who We Are

Founded in 1978, Mercy Ships is a global faith-based charity that uses hospital ships and volunteer professionals to deliver free specialized surgical care and medical training to build the local healthcare systems with our host nations, focusing in Africa.

Medical Training

Mercy Ships offers free training designed to empower healthcare workers and strengthen local healthcare systems. Instruction is specific to the unique needs of our host nation and planned in collaboration with the National Ministry of Health.

How We Help

Mercy Ships comes alongside our host nation with volunteer professionals to address the immediate surgical needs of a nation, simultaneously training local healthcare workers, and collaboratively building healthcare infrastructure. This approach empowers our host’s sustainable progress and continued development.

Who We Are

Founded in 1978, Mercy Ships is a global faith-based charity that uses hospital ships and volunteer professionals to deliver free specialized surgical care and medical training to build the local healthcare systems with our host nations, focusing in Africa.

Medical Training

Mercy Ships offers free training designed to empower healthcare workers and strengthen local healthcare systems. Instruction is specific to the unique needs of our host nation and planned in collaboration with the National Ministry of Health.

How We Help

Mercy Ships comes alongside our host nation with volunteer professionals to address the immediate surgical needs of a nation, simultaneously training local healthcare workers, and collaboratively building healthcare infrastructure. This approach empowers our host’s sustainable progress and continued development.

Ask Us Anything

We are excited to share our story with you. We believe that a successful collaboration is based on mutual trust. By being transparent with local media and organizations and inviting them to learn more about our mission, we hope to build strong partnerships that will help us achieve our goals.

For this purpose, we have selected for you the most important facts and figures about Mercy Ships.

If you have any questions, please contact us using this form. Our team will get back to you as soon as possible.

 Get in Touch

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Please be aware, we’re not taking any referrals through this form. Referrals through messages or email will not be received. Any other message we will try to respond to ASAP.

Ask Us Anything

We are excited to share our story with you. We believe that a successful collaboration is based on mutual trust. By being transparent with local media and organizations and inviting them to learn more about our mission, we hope to build strong partnerships that will help us achieve our goals.

For this purpose, we have selected for you the most important facts and figures about Mercy Ships.

If you have any questions, please contact us using this form. Our team will get back to you as soon as possible.

 Get in Touch

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Please be aware, we’re not taking any referrals through this form. Referrals through messages or email will not be received. Any other message we will try to respond to ASAP.