Shipping & Shipbuilding News -  4 May 2007 - The Brightest Maritime Daily
 





AFRICA MERCY sails from UK to Africa
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 our way.”

£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.






 

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