Sierra Leone-Health

Sierra Leone, Mercy Ships affirm partnership to strengthen surgical care

APA-Freetown (Sierra Leone)

The Sierra Leonean government and Mercy Ships have extended existing protocol agreements for their newest hospital ship, the Global Mercy to visit the country next year, APA learnt on Friday.

President Julius Maada Bio paid homage to the Mercy Ships, for their continuous humanitarian and medical support to people with various medical conditions worldwide including Sierra Leone. 

''This partnership agreement which was signed pre-covid includes a 10-month Global Mercy deployment for free surgical care in partnership with local institutions in Sierra Leone'' he said in a statement. 

According to the president, the hospital ship will serve as a platform for training healthcare professionals to build capacity in Sierra Leone. 

''Programs will ensure that the positive impact of Mercy Ships will continue long after the ship leaves the shores of Sierra Leone. This partnership will support our vision to ensure a functional national health system delivering efficient, high-quality healthcare services that are accessible, equitable and affordable for all,” Mr. Bio stated.

Mercy Ships CEO Gert van de Weerdhof highlighted the partnership with Sierra Leone, adding that the medical ship is planning a future return to the country for the sixth field service. 

''Now we can fully step into an important season of assessing existing needs and identifying how we can best support to deliver hope and healing to those in tremendous need of surgical care” de Weerdhof said.

When the Global Mercy docks in the host nation’s port, crew will provide free surgical care for thousands of people, training for local healthcare workers and more. 

All services by Mercy Ships are provided free of charge to the participant, thanks to donors around the world and their support of the volunteer professionals onboard their hospital ships.   

"This long-lasting partnership paves the way for Mercy Ships to continue to engage closely with the government of Sierra Leone and to strengthen our joint commitment to improving access to safe surgical care," stated Dr. Sandra Lako, Country Director for Mercy Ships in Sierra Leone.

“A collaborative approach is the strongest way to strengthen health systems,” added Dr Mark Shrime, International Chief Medical Officer for Mercy Ships. Meetings were facilitated by Dame Ann Gloag, Mercy Ships international board member who has also been working with Sierra Leone for many years.

Past Freetown, Sierra Leone port visits by a Mercy Ship include 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2011. 

The Global Mercy is scheduled to visit Dakar Senegal early 2023 for several months prior to Sierra Leone.

WN/as/APA

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