MSC Group and Mercy Ships Forge Alliance to Build New Hospital Ship for Africa

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A groundbreaking agreement between MSC Group, MSC Foundation, and the charity Mercy Ships International prepares for the construction of a brand-new hospital ship that will deliver free surgery and training annually to thousands of people in Africa, according to an article published on their website.

About the deal

On April 8, the chairman of MSC Group and MSC Foundation, Capt. Gianluigi Aponte, Diego Aponte, MSC Group President and Member of the MSC Foundation Board, and Mercy Ships Founder Don Stephens finalized an agreement to kickstart this new project with a generous anchor donation from MSC, reflecting the visionary leaders’ commitment to supporting access to critical healthcare for the generations to come.

Since Mercy Ships was founded in 1978, it has provided more than 117,000 transformational specialized surgical procedures. These surgeries include maxillofacial reconstructions, contracture release for severe burns, correction for orthopedic problems in children, cleft lip and palate repair, ophthalmology, and dental services. Mercy Ships, a non-governmental organization, is also committed to boosting the capacities of local healthcare systems through sustainably designed surgical education, training, and advocacy programs. Mercy Ships has provided additional training to more than 54,300 local professionals in their areas of expertise.

Expanding its fleet with a new purpose-built hospital ship, designed to similar specifications as the Global Mercy™ with a focus on designated training spaces, will allow Mercy Ships to increase its capacity to collaborate with host nations in training and advocacy efforts.

The need to accelerate access to surgical care and surgical education in sub-Saharan Africa remains very apparent. In his welcome speech at the recent West African College of Surgeons (WACS) conference in Freetown, Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh of Sierra Leone stated that the country is still grappling with 91% unmet surgical needs.  Highlighting the progress already made, he urged collaborative efforts to tackle surgical deficits.

Operating hospital ships involves transporting large quantities of essential supplies across oceans and seas to continuously support surgical and training activities. MSC and Mercy Ships have been partners since 2011, with the MSC Group ensuring logistical support and container delivery of supplies to all ports of service. The infrastructure support and logistical expertise provided by its teams in Africa ranges from MSC’s local shipping agency and MSC and TiL terminals handling cargo to MSC and MEDLOG logistics, storage, and inland transportation services. In addition to this, MSC has provided extensive technical advice and experience in preparation for the new vessel, working with Mercy Ships to develop a design that is an evolution in terms of efficiency for the organization’s needs.

The new ship will feature living spaces to accommodate approximately 600 crew members and guests on board. Its hospital will span two decks and 7,000 square meters, featuring six operating rooms, a fully equipped laboratory, and state-of-the-art training spaces such as a simulation lab. This makes it possible for Mercy Ships to strengthen local surgical systems during its 10 months in port.

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Source: MSC