Humanitarian AidMercy Ships Calls for Record Volunteer Support as it Doubles Impact in...

Mercy Ships Calls for Record Volunteer Support as it Doubles Impact in 2024

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Africa- January 2024- Mercy Ships, an international charity, is stepping up its efforts to provide better surgical treatment throughout Africa in anticipation of a momentous 2024. The organization currently has two hospital ships in operation. There is an ever-growing need for volunteers.

Since August 2023, the charity’s latest vessel, the Global Mercy, has been providing surgeries in Sierra Leone. Meanwhile, the Africa Mercy is scheduled to commence service in Madagascar.

In 2023, Mercy Ships performed 3,295 surgeries, with Global Mercy contributing 1,437 surgeries during field services in Freetown and Dakar. Over 1,300 skilled volunteers from 67 countries, including more than 660 locals from Senegal, The Gambia, and Sierra Leone, made this mission possible.

Mercy Ships, active in eight countries in 2023, trained 56 dentists and 1,297 healthcare professionals. In December, the impact was publicly acknowledged. This acknowledgment occurred during the Senegalese Society of Pediatric Surgery and the African Society of Pediatric Surgery Congress in Dakar. Professor Habib Ndiaye from the Ministry of Health and Social Action praised Mercy Ships for addressing the shortage of pediatric surgeons and contributing significantly to child orthopedic surgeries.

With two hospital ships operating in the new year, the impact is doubled. However, twice as many volunteers are required to fill gaps identified by recent studies and satisfy urgent surgical requirements.

Approximately five billion people globally lack access to safe surgical care, with about 1.7 billion being children and adolescents. A recent study in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery highlighted the significant burden in sub-Saharan Africa. Almost half the population in this region is under 18, yet children’s surgery is often neglected in global health policies.

As the new year begins, Mercy Ships International Chief Medical Officer, Mark Shrime issued a rallying cry that the progress made needs continued and urgent action.

He said: “The Dakar Declaration calls upon all African nations, key partners, and stakeholders to commit to scaling up surgical services, infrastructure, and personnel available for patients who need them. Mercy Ships stands solidly behind this call, recognizing that one person dies of a surgically treatable disease every two seconds.”

Also Read: Philips Foundation Advances Maternal Healthcare Access in Sub-Saharan Africa

As the new year begins, Mercy Ships calls for volunteers to fill important roles. This includes nurses, ophthalmic surgeons, radiology team members, IT professionals, cooks, teachers, plumbers, and electricians. Opportunities exist within education, training, and advocacy. These opportunities aim to increase the number of surgical providers and advocate for improved global access to surgery.

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