A Promise Fulfilled:
The Africa Mercy Returns
February 1st marked a long-awaited moment for Mercy Ships patients and partners across the globe. The Africa Mercy hospital ship returned to West Africa, bringing hope and healing as the vessel docked once again in the port of Dakar, Senegal.
The nation of Senegal continues to experience a strained healthcare system and its people with limited opportunities for surgical care.
The return of the hospital ship the Africa Mercy follows challenging two years for every nation. Particularly in countries with middle- to low-resources. With fewer than seven physicians to treat every 100,000 people, the global pandemic not only took resources and capacity, but also the hope of many patients given surgery dates on the Africa Mercy.
During the early outbreak of the pandemic, Mercy Ships made the difficult decision to pivot our efforts in Senegal. While our hospital ship may not have been in the country, the mission of Mercy Ships continued. Thanks to a strong partnership with Senegal’s government and Ministry of Health, Mercy Ships stood shoulder to shoulder with Senegal during the pandemic, providing vital medical supplies such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and supporting the Ministry of Health’s campaign to provide cataract surgery to more than 100 local patients.
Members of the Mercy Ships Country Engagement Team remained actively at work in the country, with one Senegalese team member making thousands of phone calls per month to keep patients updated and connected during a time filled with uncertainty. During the last months of 2021, the team traversed thousands of miles across the country to revisit formerly scheduled patients and arrange their next appointments on the ship.
Having been given dates for surgery, many patients had to battle concerns they might never get the help they had come so close to receiving.
But Mercy Ships made a promise to the country of Senegal that our hospital ship would return. A promise to provide hope and healing and to return to those in need of safe surgical care, now more than ever. In February, after much research, planning, and collaboration with the government of Senegal, the Africa Mercy returned.
The hospital ship’s return signifies a promise made and now fulfilled, giving more than a thousand patients back the hope they thought lost.
Now, hundreds of patients hold appointment cards to see the surgical staff on the Africa Mercy and receive a new date for surgery. Now, the hospital on board has come to life. Women’s health patients were amongst the first patient we welcomed at the Hope Center. Surgeries are taking place and the field service is officially in motion! Mercy Ships volunteers and local crew are thrilled to be back in Senegal doing what we love: bringing transformative hope and healing to each patient.
Would you like to be part of this common goal and join the hundreds of volunteers from across the globe? Visit www.mercyships.org/makeyourmark to join the return to Senegal and make your mark in 2022 as a medical or technical volunteer.
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