Monday, May 28, 2007

Hospital ship begins trip around Africa in Liberia

Source: .

MONROVIA, Liberia (Reuters) -- The world's largest charity hospital ship docked in Liberia on Wednesday to begin a mission to bring free health care to Africa.

The 80-bed Africa Mercy, a former Danish rail ferry converted into a state-of-the-art hospital ship, will spend several months treating patients in Monrovia port before moving on to Sierra Leone on a voyage that will take it around Africa.

An enthusiastic crowd greeted the white- and blue-painted vessel with its massive square superstructure.

With six operating theaters on board, it has the capacity to carry out 7,000 operations a year including, cataract and tumor removal, lens implants, cleft lip and palate reconstruction, orthopaedics and obstetric fistula repair.

It is run by the international charity Mercy Ships, which since its creation in 1978 has sent hospital ships around the world providing free health care and services to the poor.

Africa Mercy and her 400-strong multinational volunteer crew will take over from the smaller Anastasis, another Mercy Ships vessel which will be retiring later this year after serving more than 275 ports around the world over her lifetime.

"The Africa Mercy will now lead the charge to help end despair throughout the regions of Africa," Myron E. Ullman, III, Chairman of the Mercy Ships International Board, said.

Crew members waving the flags of several countries joined in signing and dancing at the arrivals ceremony at the port.

On hand to greet the ship on Wednesday were several former patients who had been successfully treated by Mercy Ships staff.

"I am just happy, I mean too happy for the Mercy Ship to be here. I was blind for five years. I couldn't see, but when the Mercy Ship (the Anastasis) came, I was able to see after they operated on me," 68-year-old Liberian Joseph John told Reuters.

Buying the former ferry and turning it into a floating hospital cost around $62 million, funded by donations and gifts-in-kind.

Liberia, Africa's oldest republic founded in 1847 by freed American slaves, is trying to recover from a devastating on-off 1989-2003 civil war that destroyed infrastructure and public services and killed and maimed tens of thousands of people.

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa's first female elected head of state, will visit the Africa Mercy on Monday.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

I am moderating comments because I do not have the time to catch all the nasty comments ie. sexual in nature. I won't put up with that. If you want to get in touch with me, e-mail me or come over to Rosemary's Thoughts. Thank you.

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home