Hospital ship the Africa Mercy has arrived in Cameroon for its first tour of duty in the West African country after undergoing maintenance dry-docking in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.
Described by Mercy Ships’ UK head of fundraising, Sarah Balser, as the “most exciting ship in the world”, it has been all hands on deck preparing the floating hospital for its first Cameroon patients.
Nurses have rolled up their sleeves to build furniture, engineers have doubled up as equipment cleaners and photographers have been seen assembling beds.
“There is a strong sense of unity as crew from various departments join forces to do whatever it takes to ensure our hospital ship is ready for her mission,” said Mercy Ships.
The 16,572-gt Africa Mercy (built 1980), a former Danish ferry, sailed from Las Palmas to Cameroon with about 290 volunteers, part of its “precious cargo” being a six-month-old baby with its family, who are working as volunteers.
Screening of patients for possible treatment began on 30 August, while the hospital and dental clinic opened last week. About 450 volunteers typically crew the Africa Mercy, but the ship is urgently seeking a mechanic fitter.
The Africa Mercy’s previous assignment was 10 months in Benin where it performed 1,957 surgeries, dental treatment for 6,942 patients and training for 1,962 local workers, as well as more than 4,000 therapy services.
So-called “medical capacity training” for locals happens wherever the Africa Mercy visits, so there is a legacy of help left behind.
Likewise in Cameroon, where, away from the ship berthed in Doula port, another Hospital Out-Patient Extension (Hope) Centre has been established, with a “tired and derelict” area transformed into a facility almost double the capacity of earlier similar units and providing space for 220 patients at any one time.
TradeWinds has teamed up with Mercy Ships again this year to be a partner in Cargo Day on 4 October, a fundraising venture involving the global shipping community (See MercyShipsCargoDay.org).
One of the organisers, Tim Webb, global head of tankers for shipbroker Barry Rogliano Salles, said: “Charterers, owners, brokers and other industry players, please step up and support this event.”
Webb says the target is to at least double the $320,000 raised last year. Organisers also hope to spread the effort from Geneva, London and Houston to embrace much wider worldwide coverage.
Published in WEEKLY
September 14th, 2017 17:00 GMT