After careful consideration, the Executive Committee of the Mercy Ships International Board has approved the deployment of the Africa Mercy to the nation of Benin for the August 2016 – June 2017 field service.
The Africa Mercy was previously scheduled to dock in Benin in 2014, but had to redeploy due to the Ebola outbreak in the region of West Africa. Following the past two years of service in Madagascar, the decision to return to West Africa was taken with great care and deliberation even though Benin was not affected.
During the past several months a number of West African countries have been declared Ebola free. In the coming months, Mercy Ships will continue to carefully monitor these encouraging developments, study and make the necessary preparations for this field service.
Benin is considered one of the most stable and safest countries in the region, with a history of peaceful transitions between governments through democratic elections, and a progressive government striving to modernise the country and eradicate poverty.
Despite the stability of both the country and its economic growth, it is still considered one of the poorest nations in the world, ranking at 165 out of 187 countries according to the United Nations Human Development Index in 2013. Benin welcomes support to improve the country’s health system. (1)
Donovan Palmer, Group Managing Director for Mercy Ships, reports, “Since our last visit to Benin, the Mercy Ships programmatic model has expanded. Capacity-building projects are now possible on a scale which did not exist previously. Coupled with the opportunity to build on projects from the past, we believe Mercy Ships efforts have the potential to catalyze change in Benin in ways not possible before now.”
The Africa Mercy last visited Benin in 2009. Previous to that time, Mercy Ships have also docked in Cotonou in 2004, 2001, and first served in the nation in 1997.