We have arrived back in the beautiful island nation of Madagascar and couldn’t be more excited for the hospital doors to be open (or swinging)!
Madagascar is well known for it’s beautiful scenery and unique animals. It’s less known however for it’s poverty – that for a population of 23 million, there are 92% of which live on less than $2 per day. They have 2 doctors per 10 000 people compared to Canada which has 21 doctors/10 000 people. Similarly there are 57 dental professionals for the whole of Madagascar while in Canada there are 19,563.
The Human Development Index is a rank of countries in order from most developed to least developed. The three subjects which they use to measure this are life expectancy, education and income. Madagascar ranks 155th on the HDI index. Canada is ranked 8th.
During the Africa Mercy’s stay in the port of Toamasina, we plan to provide over 2,200 surgeries for adult and child patients onboard, treat over 10,000 at a land-based dental clinic, and provide holistic healthcare education to Malagasy health care professionals.
Our team was hard at work well before the ship arrived!
The screening team worked tirelessly over the summer to find and meet patients in need of medical care. They visited cities all over the island, so that we can offer surgery even to those who are far from the port city.
The team worked very hard to also renovate the new Physical Therapy department to teach in!
What’s going on now?
A lot! The dental clinic opened on September 3rd, first surgeries began on September 8th, surgical skills and training is under way and there will be screenings held throughout the field service.
There will be lots to report back to you on over the next coming months so make sure to return for updates on patients, our crew and the work being done with your support to bring free healthcare to thousands in Madagascar!
Why is Mercy Ships so addictive? Robbie says, “Well, it’s nice that I don’t have to cook if I don’t want to.” It’s true. She forgot to mention the fact that it’s also nice that most of crew don’t have to do dishes, either.
But there’s much more to it than that. When asked to name her favorite part of serving, she replied, “The people … when they come in and have a tooth problem … just seeing their smiles when they leave … they’re just feeling so much better … seeing the results and the difference we can make by relieving their pain that they’ve been in for such a long time.”
In Madagascar, where Mercy Ships is currently serving, there are only 2 dentists for every 100,000 people. Most of the dentists are in large cities. The locally available dental care can be inadequate or expensive. The resulting dental situation is devastating.*
Robbie describes the difference in dental health in Madagascar as compared to the USA: “There’s really no comparison … their [the people in Madagascar] teeth are quite broken down, and they mainly just have their roots left, so they have probably been in some pain for a while. They haven’t been able to go anywhere, and I think some of the local dentists don’t use anesthetic, so the patients are a little wary of going to get that taken care of. I’ve been in several countries, West African countries, and to me, Madagascar has some of the worst teeth that I’ve seen … they have a larger number of teeth we have to remove from each patient because they’re so decayed. Even small children, a lot of their baby teeth are just all decayed down to the gum line.” (more…)
The 2015 Ride for Refuge is just around the corner, a family-friendly cycling and walking fundraiser that helps charities and their supporters to raise money for their work with the displaced, vulnerable and exploited!
Mercy Ships would be nothing without our amazing partners, donors and volunteers.
Thanks to the support of people all over the world, we have provided care to over 2.5 million people in 37 years, visiting 587 ports since Mercy Ships was founded in 1978.
Each country we visit is unique, as are the people and the problems they face. Therefore our programs vary with each country we visit, tailored to fit the needs of different cultures and communities.
This month we will start our second field service in Madagascar. Thanks to committed donors and volunteers, in addition to providing free surgeries and healthcare onboard the Africa Mercy, we will also be investing in a wide range of health infrastructure, training and programs that address pressing needs for the people of Madagascar.
Running capacity building programs in addition to a full service hospital onboard the Africa Mercy takes a lot of time, money and resources. So many people give generous gifts that help make our work possible, but it is our monthly donors who really allow us to invest in programs that go above and beyond to foster long term health in the countries we work in.
These monthly donors don’t all give a huge amount of money each month – some give as little as $5 – but knowing we can count on them every month with a reliable donation allows us to develop projects that would be impossible without them.
Thanks to monthly donors and volunteers, this year we are building a Women’s Health Clinic in Madagascar, which will provide long-term support for women with devastating conditions like VVF (LINK). We are also investing more in the Food for Life Program (LINK), which addresses food insecurity by giving Malagasy communities long term solutions for hunger in impoverished communities.
This is in addition to the 2, 091 free life changing surgeries we will give in Madagascar this year, as well a wide range of general treatments, medical infrastructure and training programs. Without donors and volunteers, none of this would be possible.
Small gifts make a big difference.
As we start our second service in Madagascar, monthly donors have never had such a significant impact on our work in the field. Reliable monthly support means us being able to plan and carry out much needed projects, bringing hope and healing to as many people as possible.
This September we are asking you to consider what $5 means to you – a cup of coffee? Spare change around the house? To most people living in Madagascar, $5 is more than 25% of their monthly income. $5 can help put a roof over a family’s head, keep a child from going hungry and help care for them when they are sick. $5 a month can make a real difference.
Please consider investing in our projects and the people of Madagascar with a small gift each month. Click here (LINK) to learn about the various programs your help can support, and help us build a future in Madagascar where no one goes hungry, care is given to those in need, and hope is given to those who have none, long after the Africa Mercy departs.
– Andrea, Donor Relations and Communications, Mercy Ships Canada
Madagascar, the fourth-largest island in the world, is home to over twenty-two million people. But there are only eight surgeons who specialize in orthopedics and traumatology. Most of them are located in the capital city, Antananarivo.
In the port city of Tamatave, where the Mercy Ships is docked, Dr. Randrianirina Andry is the only orthopedic surgeon. He says, “We need to train more people to become orthopedic surgeons. We especially need more adequate conditions and equipment for these types of surgery.”
The statistics verify his statement. It is estimated that over 15,000 adults and children are afflicted with neglected clubfoot, and nearly a thousand babies are born with clubfoot each year.* In addition, people suffer from other orthopedic deformities, such as bowed legs.
Driven by a passion for bringing hope and healing to those who would never otherwise receive treatment, Mercy Ships provided 55 free orthopedic surgeries and over 990 orthopedic therapy services during the 2014-2015 Madagascar Field Service.
But Mercy Ships also invested in the long-term future of Madagascar’s health infrastructure by providing healthcare education. The healthcare education projects impart knowledge and skills, while modeling and encouraging compassion and a professional work ethic. In addition to offering internationally recognized courses for groups and structured observation in the Africa Mercy hospital, Mercy Ships also provides one-on-one mentoring opportunities. (more…)