MADAGASCAR— The hospital ship Africa Mercy has commemorated the impending start of internationally charity Mercy Ships’ impactful surgical interventions in Madagascar, which seek to provide over 1,000 surgeries and train over 40 Malagasy medical professionals.

More than 120 community leaders, dignitaries, and other visitors gathered on board on May 15 to commemorate the milestone.

This marks the commencement of free, life-changing surgeries for selected patients in Madagascar, representing Mercy Ships’ fourth field service in the country, following previous visits in 1996, 2015, and 2016.

Since arriving in Madagascar in February, Africa Mercy has adopted a comprehensive strategy to ensure the broad reach of its services, which now include 12 locations around the country.

Mercy Ships has previously worked with the government and Ministry of Health to offer more than 6,425 life-changing surgical treatments and 52,395 dental procedures.

Mercy Ships has a long history of education, having trained 2,019 healthcare professionals.

The Mayor of Toamasina, Nantenaina Rakotonirina; the Interim Governor of Atsinanana, Bemahefa Gervais; and the Representative of Public Health of Atsinanana, Razafiariosoa Celestine Vavy, all attended the long preparations for the hospital’s debut.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mrs. Razafiariosoa Celestine, stated that the partnership with the Malagasy government is critical because it addresses gaps that the government cannot fill, whether financial or temporal, and that Mercy Ships bridges these gaps, exemplifying a public-private partnership that provides invaluable assistance, particularly to those in dire need.

In collaboration with Madagascar’s Ministry of Health, the organisation aims to increase the number of surgical providers, deliver training across the surgical ecosystem, develop sustainable educational programmes, establish a network of healthcare providers, and advocate for the importance of surgery in global healthcare.

Dr. Toky Rafanomezantsoa, for his part, expressed his excitement that the ship was in Madagascar to assist the Malagasy people and perform high-quality surgical operations at no cost.

He emphasised that the ship is well-equipped and that the staff, who are volunteers from all over the world, are highly trained, stating that they are fortunate to be able to provide such high-quality care.

According to Dr. Rafanomezantsoa, Malagasy medical professionals such as doctors, nurses, and medical students will benefit from the training and experiences shared with the ship’s crew and equipment.

Nathan Jansen, Africa Mercy’s Managing Director, expressed his excitement about providing over 1,000 surgeries and training more than 40 Malagasy medical professionals on board, noting that they will collaborate with in-country partners to train and equip medical professionals across the nation.

Nathan was particularly pleased to see several past patients since their arrival in February and see how surgery had changed their life, as well as to see professors still teaching Mercy Ships simulation courses and interns benefiting from this training.

Merryl Mackenzie, Hospital Director of Africa Mercy, leading  an impressive effort to install brand new medical equipment with her team, and expressed her excitement  to see how this field service will transform lives in Madagascar and increase access to surgical care and education.

Patients will begin boarding the ship anchored in Toamasina for life-changing surgery in just two weeks after the gathering on board.

Read an extensive story of Mercy Ships’ history and numerous initiatives in our issue 10 of Healthcare Middle East and Africa Magazine.

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