Mercy Ships COVID-19 UPDATE #7

01 June 2020

Although borders to countries remain tightly monitored, as restrictions begin to ease in different locations, our teams continue to work tirelessly and respond directly to the needs of our West and Central African partners as they deal with the threat and spread of coronavirus on the continent. We are a global community and this pandemic highlights even more that none of us are truly well until all of us are well.

The crew:

Onboard the Africa Mercy, the crew are well and we are grateful that we have not had to deal with any COVID-19 cases onboard. Morale is good. The crew are caring for each other keeping the ship safe and in order during this season. Meanwhile discussions are ongoing for the physical and procedural adjustments that will need to be made, in preparation for a return to service in the field. While many of our medical and healthcare crew are back home assisting in their own nation’s situations, our HR department continues to welcome technical and maritime crew applications in particular.

The ship:

We are grateful to have a safe and secure port in which to undergo our annual shipyard phase. This effort includes hospital and accommodation projects, technical service repairs and completion of maintenance for required surveys so that we can continue the operation of the Africa Mercy in compliance with maritime regulations. Many aspects of these projects are contingent on factors outside of our control, so please join with us in prayer as restrictions slowly begin to lift and for all aspects of restock and resupply.

Our African partners:

Most agree that Africa’s COVID response must be customized to the continent’s unique needs. Solutions deployed by Western countries may not work and in fact may cause even more hardship due to the prevalence of informal economies and subsistence living.

Our programs department continues to focus on strengthening the healthcare systems within West and Central Africa with the advisement of Dr. Pierre M’Pele, Africa Bureau Director and other experts. Pre and post-ship projects are underway including:

  • Increasing support to the Gamal Dental University in Conakry, Guinea. With a significant restoration of the building and ongoing program development, the dental school is key to training dentists in this part of Africa.
  • Our Mental Health Team led the first of a number of eLearning courses designed to support our West African colleagues in hospital and institutional settings during these challenging times. This coincided with Mental Health Awareness Week.
  • In Liberia, PPE/supplies a donation for anesthesia machines to JFK Public Hospital in Liberia will be followed-up with online virtual training in both theory and practical use by our Biomed engineers to the hospital’s biomed team.
  • A second round of PPE kits to support partners in Benin, Liberia, Madagascar, Sierra Leone and Togo.

As Mercy Ships CEO Tom Stogner says, “Mercy Ships was active in Africa before COVID-19, we are active during COVID-19 and we will continue once COVID-19 is long forgotten!”