MSC throws weight behind Mercy Ships

2024-04-29T17:40:51+00:00 April 29th, 2024|Ships|

An agreement signed between MSC Group, MSC Foundation and the charity Mercy Ships International is aimed at the construction of a new hospital ship.

It is intended that the hospital ship will offer free surgery and training annually to thousands of people in Africa.

On 8th April, the chairman of MSC Group and MSC Foundation, Capt Gianluigi Aponte, Diego Aponte, MSC Group President and Member of the MSC Foundation Board, and Mercy Ships Founder Don Stephens finalised an agreement to kickstart the new project with an anchor donation from MSC Foundation.

“I spent part of my childhood and early years in the shipping industry in the Horn of Africa, it is a region close to my heart. I saw first-hand the challenges faced by many local communities there and this shaped my conviction that improving the availability of healthcare would bring real and lasting impact for them.

“It has been extremely gratifying to work with Don and provide this crucial support through his unique organisation Mercy Ships, our partnership has reaped extraordinary results already and now we are on the verge of expanding their fleet to increase this support.

“I truly look forward to seeing this new ship set sail to help more communities across Africa” said Capt Aponte.

Since Mercy Ships was founded in 1978, the organisation has provided more than 117,000 specialised surgical procedures.

Mercy Ships, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), is also committed to boosting the capacities of local healthcare systems through sustainably designed surgical education, training, and advocacy programmes.  Mercy Ships has provided additional training to more than 54,300 local professionals in their areas of expertise.

Expanding its fleet with a new purpose-built hospital ship, designed to similar specifications as the ’Global Mercy’’ with a focus on designated training spaces, will allow Mercy Ships to increase its capacity to collaborate with host nations in training and advocacy efforts.

Mercy Ships’ founder Stephens, added: “The investment of many around the world towards a fleet of hospital ships will be enhanced by the future of our new purpose-built vessel.

“The mission of Mercy Ships to bring Hope and Healing is only possible by the generosity of our partners, volunteer crew, and the provision of God. Today, I am grateful to MSC for their support,” he said.

Operating hospital ships involves transporting large quantities of essential supplies by sea to continuously support surgical and training activities.

MSC and Mercy Ships have been partners since 2011, with the MSC Group ensuring logistical support and container delivery of supplies to all ports of service.

The infrastructure support and logistical expertise provided by its teams in Africa ranges from MSC’s local shipping agency and MSC and TiL terminals handling cargo for MSC and MEDLOG logistics, storage, and inland transportation services.

In addition, MSC has provided extensive technical advice and experience in preparation for the new vessel, working with Mercy Ships to develop a design that will improve efficiency for the organisation’s needs.

The new ship will feature accommodation for about 600 crew members and guests on board. Its hospital will span two decks and 7,000 sq m, featuring six operating rooms, a fully equipped laboratory, and state-of-the-art training spaces, such as a simulation lab.

This makes it possible for Mercy Ships to strengthen local surgical systems during its time in port, typically a 10-months field service.

Gert van de Weerdhof, Mercy Ships CEO, commented: “This new hospital ship brings state of-the-art equipment and facilities to support the nations we serve. This new vessel and her future crew will enable us to meet surgical needs, while supporting host nations as they develop healthcare systems with their next generation of medical professionals.”

Diego Aponte said, “I have always been passionate about Africa and I was struck by the extraordinary and honourable nature of Don’s initiative when it was first presented, and these made me want to be involved in a significant way.

“Mercy Ships brings tangible and concrete support to thousands of families across the region, and with MSC Group’s major presence there we have a duty to give back to the local communities.

“This vessel is yet another milestone in our vision to support the African continent with achieving a truly prosperous and sustainable destiny,” he said.

Daniel Picco, MSC Foundation Executive Director, said: “We are extremely proud of our support for Mercy Ships through grant-making and in-kind donations and of the transformative impacts their free services and training have had on 18,000 medical professionals and community leaders, and 30,300 patients of all ages through 33,200 surgeries since 2011.

“When the discussion started with Mercy Ships’ founder Don Stephens to build a new ship together, I was delighted to facilitate this game-changing commitment to accompany Mercy Ships into the coming decades,” he said.