MADAGASCAR— Mercy Ships has performed its free, life-changing surgery on a baby girl suffering from bilateral cleft lip in Madagascar, marking a significant milestone for the international charity since its return to the island nation.

This surgery on ten-month-old Anjara represents a landmark achievement for the organization, which is now operating two hospital ships simultaneously in Africa for the first time under the guidance of Dr. Parker, a long-term volunteer surgeon.

While Africa Mercy delivers patient care and surgical training in Madagascar, Global Mercy is concurrently conducting its field service in Sierra Leone.

Since arriving in Madagascar in February, the Africa Mercy has implemented an extensive strategy to ensure the broad reach of its services, covering diverse regions within the country, with registrations spanning 12 regions.

This marks Mercy Ships’ fourth field service in Madagascar, following previous visits in 1996, 2015, and 2016.

During its prior visits, Mercy Ships collaborated with the government and Ministry of Health to provide more than 6,425 life-changing surgical procedures and over 52,395 dental procedures.

Beyond surgeries, Mercy Ships has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to education, having trained 2,019 healthcare professionals in the past.

Commenting on this transformative surgery, Nathan Jansen, Africa Mercy’s managing director, noted that this surgery marks the beginning of a new chapter, culminating years of work and preparation.

He welcomed baby Anjara as their first patient, ushering  a new era for Mercy Ships adding that  with Mercy Ships expanding its work across the continent, healthcare access and quality continue to improve.

Jansen emphasized that the dedication and hard work of volunteers and staff, coupled with the generous support of donors, have made this historic moment possible.

On his part, Anjara’s father, Mamy Jean Victor, expressed his gratitude, thanking God for sending Mercy Ships to help his daughter so she can be like other children. He hopes that their work continues to benefit other children in need.

Lalaina, Anjara’s mother, echoed his sentiments, thanking Mercy Ships for repairing Anjara’s cleft lip.

In her remarks, Dr. Lethicia Lydia Yasmine, Madagascar’s Secretary General of the Ministry of Health, identified key obstacles to advancing surgery and anesthesia in the country, including a lack of staff, reduced capacity, resource limitations, and inequity in access to surgical care.

 She highlighted that one significant barrier to accessing surgery is the lack of insurance, making costs prohibitively high for many patients.

Through an education, training, and advocacy strategy, Mercy Ships, in collaboration with Madagascar’s Ministry of Health, aims to increase the number of surgical providers, deliver comprehensive training across the surgical ecosystem, develop sustainable educational programs, establish a network of healthcare providers, and advocate for the importance of surgery in global healthcare.

During this year’s field service in the Port of Toamasina, Mercy Ships will offer direct medical services to more than 1,000 patients, while simultaneously mentoring and training healthcare professionals to strengthen surgical and anesthetic systems in the country.

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