Our Prayers are with the families, the President, and the people of Senegal during this very difficult time.
As Mercy Ships we are heartbroken by the recent tragedy in Senegal. A terrible accident in a hospital in Senegal on May 25 has cost the lives of 11 newborn babies. President Macky Sall has declared three days of national mourning in memory of the victims of the tragedy at the Mame Abdou Aziz hospital in Tivaouane. Our deepest sympathies and shared mourning are with His Excellency President Macky Sall and the people of Senegal regarding the tragic hospital fire and loss of infant lives.
A Roadmap to Strengthen Surgical, Obstetric and Anaesthetic Care Systems in Africa by 2030
Thanks to your support Mercy Ships is able to strengthen its partnership with African countries and stakeholders to provide free surgeries and other medical procedures to the most vulnerable children and adults who cannot afford or do not have access to medical care. The International Symposium on “Strengthening Surgical, Obstetric and Anesthetic Care Systems” led to a historic pan-African commitment, called the Dakar Declaration, to accelerate and improve access to essential, affordable, and equitable health care in Africa by 2030.
The International Symposium and Dakar Declaration were an unique opportunity to:
- Create a continental roadmap for improving investment in strengthening access to surgical, obstetric and anaesthesia care in Africa by 2030 in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and, in particular, the goal on Health.
- Promote and strengthen national surgical, anaesthetic, obstetric and nursing care systems and improve the surgical ecosystem as a neglected component of health systems.
The roadmap was the result of:
- An assessment of the surgical, obstetric and anaesthesia care situation in Africa with the identification of gaps.
- A list of priorities to be submitted to the African Heads of State, from an Action Plan focusing on concrete actions and investments [prioritized, streamlined, budgeted and achievable with the commitment of public and private partners] to change the situation for the achievement of the Health SDG N°3 by 2030.
- A strategy for implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Action Plan.
The Africa Mercy returned to Dakar to resume surgery
The President of the Republic of Senegal, His Excellency Mr Macky SALL is pleased to announce that the Africa Mercy has returned as promised to continue the surgical operations and training that were interrupted in March 2020 by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ship’s presence is expected to last until November 2022.
Between October 2021 and January 2022, the Mercy Ships patient selection team visited all 14 regions of the country. With the participation of the Chief Medical Officers of these regions, more than 900 patients have been selected for consultation with a surgeon with the hope to provide free surgery. Mercy Ships wishes to honour its promises to the people of Senegal and priority has been given to patients already identified in 2019/20 by the Chief Medical Officers of each region. The selection of patients is now closed. At the same time, nearly 750 health care providers will receive medical training in various specialties.
Mercy Ships has worked with the Ministry of Health and Social Action to develop protocols that ensure all activities are undertaken as safely as possible. The Mercy Ships Canada office is looking forward to supporting Canadian volunteers who will be serving in Senegal.
Strengthening our Capacity to Provide Direct Medical Services
Mercy Ships was active in Africa in 2021 as a result of our partnerships and direct efforts. In 2021, we had helped many patients with a total of 3,138 surgical procedures. 16,067 Dental procedures were performed and 2,526 Basic oral health instructions were given to patients.
In May, the Global Mercy sailed to Dakar, Senegal to join the Africa Mercy in field service. During this time, together with many of our African partners, we celebrated what has been accomplished with the build of the Global Mercy, and much more importantly, all that is to come in Africa in the next decade.
This time in Senegal is a tremendous opportunity to put the Global Mercy to work tangibly in Africa for the first time, with a focus on medical capacity building and the floating training center. During this four-week training period, more than 260 African healthcare professionals will receive training on board the Global Mercy through a variety of courses, including Surgical Skills, SAFE Anesthesia, Nursing Skills and more. This will be an intensive four weeks of training, addressing the many facets needed to deliver safe, surgical care. We aim to provide approximately 5,000 training hours, incorporating areas of the hospital we could never usually use for training in a field service so training courses will be delivered in operating rooms and wards, creating a high-fidelity experience for our participants. Following her stay in Dakar, the ship will finish equipping in the Canary Islands for the remainder of 2022 and embark on the first full field service in 2023.
For 2022, 46 individuals have either served or preparing for field service. Approximately 20 other Canadians are expected to join the Africa Mercy throughout the remainder of the Senegal field service and even more Canadian volunteers are anticipated to join the Global Mercy .
Medical Capacity Building Accelerated
Medical capacity building is an essential part of our work. In 2021, 1,343 participants had acquired 157,812 hours of training. Dental training in Guinea is a focus along with a nurse anesthetist training facility initiative. Other capacity building initiatives included pain management, biomedical technician training, mental health, and nutritional agriculture in countries such as Benin, Liberia, and Senegal amongst other nations.
Previous Mercy Ships programmatic activities that occurred after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic included the following:
- Training: Courses and eLearning, including mental health, the caregiver’s well-being, palliative care principles and food for life program.
- Dental and Surgical: Two initiatives related to dental clinic work and Freedom from Fistula.
- Senegal: Threes initiatives related to medical capacity building and training in our agriculture program.
As a result, more hope and healing will continue in Senegal as Mercy Ships brought a second ship to West Africa.
Health System Relationship Development is a Priority
COVID response initiatives related to the provision of personal protection equipment in 11 African countries demonstrated our ongoing commitment. Mercy Ships Canada also has two staff members that work internationally with Mercy Ships to help prepare for and carry out program work.
Global partnerships and innovation in program delivery are being used to carry out additional activities in 2022.