By Ibrahim Kabba Turay
The Chief Executive Officer of Mercy Ships, Gert Van De Weerdhof, has disclosed to journalists that over two thousand Sierra Leoneans will benefit from health services that would be provided by Mercy Ships in the coming days.
He made the above disclosure during a press conference on Monday 21st August, 2023 at the Ministry of Health conference room, Youyi Building in Freetown.
“The aim is to perform more than 2350 safe, free surgeries on board as well as provide training for more than 200 healthcare professionals across the surgical ecosystem. We would ensure every Sierra Leonean that enters the ships get a better medical treatment,” he assured.
He said Mercy Ships’ history in Sierra Leone had begun in 1992 with a visit from the first hospital ship in the fleet, the Anastasis.
He said their plan was not to stay long but that the civil war meant this return had to wait until 2001, where in addition to providing safe surgical care, volunteered alongside the community to rebuild what had been lost, such as fitting prosthetic limb, repairing wells and offering training to people whose lives and education had been caused by the conflict.
He added that in their return to Sierra Leone for the three field services in a row, 2001-2004, 2011, and now in 2023, Mercy Ships’ partnership with “Sweet Salone” has remained strong even, when no ship was in port from 2005 to 2008.
He further stated that over the course of five previous field services, Mercy Ship has partnered closely with Sierra Leone’s government to impact many lives, each one leaving positive effect of their own.
He said 9,548 patients cumulatively have received surgeries from Mercy Ships over the course of the past 30 years.
He said the next chapter in this 30-year history begins with the arrival of the Global Mercy this year.
He said Mercy Ships partners with the Government of Sierra Leone to ignite hope and multiply impact further by supporting the tremendous work already in place.
Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Austin Demby, said during the field service, Mercy Ships plan to operate its newest hospital ship in Freetown, to provide safe surgical and dental care, as well as advanced medical training and mentoring on board.
Minister Demby said all Mercy Ships services are provided free of charge, thanks to donors around the world and their support of the volunteer professionals giving their time and talents.
He thanked the CEO of Mercy Ships and the team for choosing Sierra Leone as a destination for the first Global Mercy to operate, adding that the people of Sierra Leone have been long waiting for the ship.
He said the government will be ready to give them the enabling environment for the next ten month they are going to be in Sierra Leone.