FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE, 22 AUGUST 2023 – In response to an invitation from H.E. President Julius Maada Bio, Freetown has welcomed a Mercy Ships hospital ship, marking the sixth instance of the collaboration between Mercy Ships and the government of Sierra Leone. This time it is the Global Mercy™ the world’s largest non-governmental hospital ship, which has docked at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay. For the next ten months, Mercy Ships’ newest state-of-the-art hospital ship will partner with the Ministry of Health to provide free specialized surgeries to Sierra Leoneans and targeted training for healthcare professionals until June 2024.
Mercy Ships’ programme strategy has been carefully aligned with the country’s current strategic healthcare plan.
His Excellency, President Julius Maada Bio eloquently affirms this synergy by stating, “Today, as we welcome the Global Mercy™ hospital ship to our shores, we celebrate a convergence of purpose. This collaboration with Mercy Ships reflects our vision for a resilient healthcare system in Sierra Leone. Their healing touch aligns seamlessly with our commitment to improve healthcare access and echoes our dedication to the Big 5 agenda on human capital development, particularly in healthcare. With this partnership, we strengthen our stride towards a healthier nation and a brighter future for all.”
Gert van de Weerdhof, CEO of Mercy Ships said: “It’s very exciting to mark the beginning of our sixth field service in Sierra Leone. We’ve had a long-standing partnership, beginning with our first field service here in 1992 on the hospital ship, the Anastasis. Since then, we returned from 2001 to 2004, and again in 2011. Now, in 2023, hope and healing will come anew as some 2,350 safe, free surgeries will be performed on board the Global Mercy.”
The life-changing surgeries delivered will include tumour removal, cleft lip and palate correction, cataract removal, orthopaedics and reconstructive plastics. Patients have been encouraged to attend screening days to receive appointments for their specific surgical needs. Patient selection teams have already registered and assessed patients in eight locations, both upcountry and in the greater Freetown area, in preparation for the ship’s arrival.
In collaboration with national and international partners, Mercy Ships will provide education and training across the surgical ecosystem for more than 200 local healthcare professionals who will add capacity long after the ship leaves. The emphasis of these programmes will focus on surgery, nursing, biomedical, sterile processing, and anesthesia. This multi-year partnership will focus on strengthening the surgical care system by investing in Sierra Leonean healthcare professionals who will impact this nation for years to come.
About Mercy Ships: For more than 30 years Mercy Ships has mobilized people and resources worldwide to promote access to safe surgical care and sustainable development within Africa. 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. Volunteers pay their own airfare as well as room and board for the privilege of serving in Sierra Leone, helping to keep the provision of services free to the recipients.
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.africa and follow @MercyShips on social media.
For More Information Contact:
Mr. Harold Thomas
Ministry of Health
Manager, Health Education Division, Sierra Leone
International Media Relations Manager
Hi-res photos and general Mercy Ships B-Roll video footage are available upon request.