AFRICA MERCY sails from UK to
World's largest civilian hospital ship left port today
The world’s largest non-governmental hospital ship, the Africa Mercy,
set sail for Africa today (Friday) to embark on its inaugural service
in war-torn Liberia.
The former Danish rail ferry, has been converted into a
state-of-the-art hospital ship at a cost of over £30million and will
provide free healthcare and community development services to the
poorest people of Africa.
The Africa Mercy is the fourth ship to be operated by the
international charity, Mercy Ships, which has provided more than
£350million worth of services since its inception in 1978.
More than 400 volunteer crew will be taking part in the ship’s first
field service in Africa providing free medical care, capacity
building, relief aid and community development programmes to the
people of Liberia.
Judy Polkinhorn, Executive Director, Mercy Ships UK, said: “This is an
amazing day. We have spent eight years fundraising and converting the
Africa Mercy into a state-of-the-art hospital and we are finally on
£1million worth of hospital supplies, equipment and materials are on
board, transforming this vessel from an empty shell into a
state-of-the-art hospital ship and small village. In addition to the
hospital supplies, essential goods including 3000 toilet rolls (three
month supply), 400 waste paper bins, 26.8 tons of frozen meat and fish
(4 months supply), 420kg of coffee courtesy of Starbucks and 4,000kg
of breakfast cereal have been loaded.
The projected surgical capacity onboard the Africa Mercy is
approximately 7,000 operations per year including, cataract
removal/lens implant, tumour removal, cleft lip and palate
reconstruction, orthopaedics and obstetric fistula repair.
Over the years Mercy Ships has treated more than 200,000 people in
village medical clinics; performing more than 32,000 surgeries and
180,000 dental treatments; and completing more than 800 construction,
agriculture and water development projects.
The charity’s biggest supporter in the UK is Ann Gloag OBE, co-founder
of the transport group Stagecoach. Through her Balcraig Foundation,
she has donated in excess of £7.5million to the charity.
A massive boost to the project also came in the form of a £6million
matching grant donated by The Oak Foundation, based in Switzerland.
All the crew on board the Africa Mercy will be volunteer professionals
from around the world who pay monthly room and board costs while
volunteering. Doctors, dentists, nurses, community developers,
teachers, builders, cooks, seamen, engineers, and many others will
donate their time and skills to the effort.