During a visit on Friday to the Mercy Ship docked at Queen Elizabeth 11 Quay in Freetown since August this year, United Nations Resident Coordinator (RC), Babatunde Ahonsi, said the UN Country Team is uplifted by the difference that the service rendered by the Ship, known as the Global Mercy, is making to the surrounding community, to benefiting patients, and to Sierra Leone.
During a tour conducted by Mercy Ship’s Country Director, Dr Sandra Lako, of the eleven-deck world’s largest non-governmental hospital ship, the RC said that for the individuals benefiting from the surgeries, the experience is life-transforming and that the boost to specialized human resources for health in the country through the training component could be significant.
Through Dr Lako, the RC congratulated the 641 volunteers comprising medical, technical, and general personnel, 300 of whom are from Sierra Leone, for the work they continue to do till June next year when the Ship is expected to depart the shores of Sierra Leone.
“I hope the country appreciates the difference it has made,”he said, adding that Sierra Leone is lucky to have the Global Mercy Ship around.
After a briefing on the traineeship opportunities that the medical practitioners in the country, especially from the Connaught Hospital, will benefit from during the Ship’s stay in Sierra Leone, the UN Resident Coordinator emphasized that he hopes that it will help raise the level of ambition for mobile health care in the country. “Anything that helps to strengthen healthcare delivery is good for Sierra Leone,” he said.
In responding, Dr Lako said that the need for surgical care, both in Freetown and upcountry, could be addressed to a certain extent by mobile clinics and indicated that it is great that the Ship’s visit has encouraged others to be more focused on engaging in mobile healthcare. For now, she does not think this would be a particular area that Mercy Ships would get involved in.
On their collaboration with the Connaught Hospital, she said, “Mercy Ships is working in partnership with Connaught Hospital to strengthen surgical care. This programme is still being developed together with our partners. We also have surgical and anaesthetic doctors and nurses from Connaught Hospital rotating on board for training and shared learning opportunities,” she said.
For ten months, according to Dr Lako, the Ship will provide some 2,350 safe and free surgeries on board to Sierra Leoneans, and it will include safe surgical and dental care, as well as advanced medical training and mentoring.
She said she was grateful for the visit led by the RC and accompanied by the Heads of FAO, Saeed Bancie, and UNIDO, Mariatu Swaray. “We are grateful we are in a country where our services are appreciated,” the Country Director said.
The team had the opportunity to meet with the Captain of the Ship and also visited the hospital and learning academy, among others.
Mercy Ship came to Sierra Leone due to an invitation by the Government, and it marks the sixth instance of the collaboration between the Ship and the country.