Charting the Seas Ahead
It goes without saying 2020 turned out very differently than we all expected.
COVID-19 has changed the world we live in, affecting everything from a routine trip to the grocery store – that often involves forgetting your mask in the car – to attending a child’s hockey practice at the local arena (if hockey is even running in your area).
Amidst all the adjustments we continue to face, one thing has not changed: the need to strengthen healthcare systems in the world’s poorest nations.
In fact, the pandemic has drawn greater attention to how incredibly fragile many of these systems are. Five billion people still lack access to safe, timely and affordable surgery. The global surgery crisis has not been on pause these past many months, and neither has the mission and work of Mercy Ships.
In the meantime, Mercy Ships has focused its efforts on medical capacity building projects and providing resources to partner nations to battle against COVID-19.
In April, current African Bureau Director for Mercy Ships, Dr. Pierre M’Pele, and his team implemented the “Stop COVID-19” initiative, which provides significant donations of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to frontline healthcare workers in Africa to help combat the spread of the virus while also protecting those on the frontlines. This initiative is operating in eleven partner countries in Africa, including Benin, Togo, Ghana, Cameroon, Senegal, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Congo, DR Congo, Guinea and Madagascar.
Mercy Ships is also still extremely active in Guinea and continuing a collaboration with the Gamal Dental Clinic at Gamal Abdul Nasser University in Conakry. Mercy Ships assisted the dental school in modifying their student dental clinic in response to COVID-19 and is actively contributing to distance education from a digital screen, as well as additional e-learning, on-site training and mentoring.
The Mercy Ships mental health team has been conducting health and well-being eLearning sessions for caregivers in West Africa during the COVID crisis, recognizing mental health is as important as physical health during this time. A new eLearning course called, ‘Palliative Care Principles and Practices’ was also recently launched.
In early October, with great joy and gratitude Mercy Ships publicly announced the launch of the brand new hospital ship, the Global Mercy, which will more than double the capacity to deliver life-changing healthcare services and medical training to Africa. Over the next 50 years, it is estimated that more than 150,000 lives will be changed onboard the Global Mercy through surgery alone. Yet this is not only a world-class floating hospital ship, it is also a state-of-the-art floating training centre. The Global Mercy will significantly increase Mercy Ships’ ability to provide training and mentoring for local healthcare professionals in the countries it serves.
Mercy Ships International Programs has been busy strategically planning its approach in 2021 in order to increase the impact of the organization’s work as it prepares for two ships in field service. A host of medical capacity building initiatives are being planned in several partner nations with a particular focus on biomedical training, mental health training, the Food for Life agriculture program, and other online eLearning courses.
Mercy Ships Canada continues to contribute to the larger effort of the organization through our existing Joint Programs Agreement, and Canadian team members serving in the areas of Pharmacy and Country Engagement.
As Mercy Ships eagerly awaits a return to field service, it is important to recognize the many challenges in doing so. Mercy Ships mobilizes volunteers from more than 50 nations each year, and COVID-19 has created an extremely challenging international transportation environment. The state of the pandemic is unique in individual countries and not all contexts are the same.
The safety of Mercy Ships volunteer crew and patients remain the top priority. The organization is committed to providing effective testing resources on the ship to ensure the highest level of health and safety for both crew and patients.
We ask that you please join us in praying for continued wisdom in navigating these choppy waters so the Africa Mercy can return to Senegal as planned in April 2021 to bring hope and healing to so many in desperate need.
Mercy Ships was in Africa before COVID-19, Mercy Ships is in Africa during COVID-19, and Mercy Ships will be in Africa after COVID-19.
Darryl Anderson, who had served as an advisor to the board of Mercy Ships Canada, was drawn into the organization full-time during COVID-19.
Irik Mallie Starts a New Journey and Makes His Mark as Chief Engineer of the Global Mercy. Learn more about Irik Mallie.
On June 16, 2021, Mercy Ships celebrated the delivery of the Global Mercy™, meaning the official handover of the vessel from the shipyard.
On June 25th Mercy Ships celebrates Day of the Seafarer, and we want to show our deep appreciation for the maritime community.
Canadian Annick Sylvestre on secondment to Mercy Ships provides an update on Mercy Ships recent medical capacity building work in Liberia.
Celebrating Africa Day with Dr. Pierre M’Pelé: “We have to believe in Africa” For more than 30 years, Mercy Ships has been invited to multiple