Global Mercy Ship Docks in Sierra Leone for 10-Month Humanitarian Mission

By Amin Kef (Ranger)

The Global Mercy Ship, renowned as the world’s largest charitable vessel, has arrived on the shores of  Sierra Leone, marking the commencement of its 6th field service. The ship’s monumental arrival was met with a warm reception from His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio and his team at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay on Wednesday August 23, 2023 in Freetown.

With a dedicated mission to provide essential medical aid to the region, the Global Mercy Ship will remain stationed off the coast for the next 10 months. A highly skilled team of medical professionals on board is prepared to perform over 2,000 critical surgical procedures, addressing pressing healthcare needs in the area.

Beyond its medical efforts, the ship’s presence is poised to contribute significantly to the local community. By generating around 300 employment opportunities for residents, the vessel aims to boost the economy and foster developmental progress in the region.

President Julius Maada Bio expressed gratitude for the arrival of the Global Mercy Ship and highlighted its potential to bring positive transformations to the lives of many in the nation. As the ship embarks on its mission, expectations are high for the lasting impact it will achieve during its tenure in Freetown.

The President conveyed his enthusiasm, stating, “Today is a momentous day for Sierra Leone as we embark on a journey of human capital development. Our commitment to this endeavor is unwavering. I am delighted, on behalf of the Government and the people of Sierra Leone, to welcome the dedicated medical team of MV Global Mercy on its 6th voyage, carrying the torch of humanitarianism to our shores. You are wholeheartedly embraced.”

President Bio underlined the significance of the Mercy Ship’s return after a 12-year hiatus, showcasing the steadfast partnership between the Government, international organizations, and compassionate individuals. This united effort, he emphasized, mirrors the power of humanity to effect positive change. He expressed profound gratitude towards Mercy Ship’s organization and its donors for their unyielding dedication to fostering sustainable surgical care across sub-Saharan Africa and instilling hope in underserved regions worldwide.

Highlighting the impactful outcomes, the President shared statistics demonstrating the strides made in healthcare since the previous Mercy Ship visit, including an increase in life expectancy from 53 to 61 years, a decline in infant mortality from 76 percent to 70 percent, and a 60 percent reduction in maternal mortality. These advancements stand as testaments to the Government’s resolute commitment to realizing Sustainable Development Goal 3—ensuring citizens’ well-being and quality health.

“We are resolute in our mission to elevate Sierra Leone’s healthcare system to regional excellence. Recently, in collaboration with international partners, a team of doctors successfully performed video-assisted thoracic surgery at Connaught Hospital. We look ahead to more such collaborations that enhance our people’s quality of life,” President Bio affirmed.

Gert van de Weerdhof, CEO of Global Mercy Ship, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to serve Sierra Leone once more. He hailed the vessel as the culmination of years of prayers and donations, a vessel where miracles have unfolded. He emphasized that their presence heralds the continuation of these miraculous transformations in Freetown. He lauded the Ministry of Health and its strategic healthcare planning, praising the Minister as a “trusted friend of global mercy.”

The CEO emphasized the significance of the 6th field service in Sierra Leone, marking a long-standing partnership since 1992. Over the next 10 months, the initiative aims to train more than 200,000 healthcare professionals, nurturing the surgical ecosystem. Despite challenges, unity remains their guiding principle for overcoming obstacles. He expressed eagerness to witness the ripple effect of this service and bestowed blessings upon the forthcoming collaborative work.

Recalling a prior visit, a delegation representing Mercy Ships engaged with President Bio, led by Dr. Austin Demby, the Minister of Health. The delegation conveyed details of the upcoming 10-month mission, set to commence on August 23, 2023. Notably, around 5,000 Sierra Leoneans have already registered for assistance, with 2,350 identified as needing critical medical attention, a priority for the ship’s medical team.

Dr. Demby highlighted the establishment of a “Hope Centre” at the Macauley Street Hospital, acting as a preparatory hub for individuals needing surgical care. Mercy Ships’ collaboration with the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS) was also announced, comprising medical student training and plans for a Dentistry School within Sierra Leone.

President Bio expressed his anticipation for Mercy Ship’s positive impact, extending warm wishes for their stay. The forthcoming 10-month mission stands poised to make profound changes in Sierra Leone’s healthcare landscape, signifying a notable advancement for the nation.



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