SWWIZELAND—An agreement has been reached between MSC Group, MSC Foundation, and the charity Mercy Ships International to construct a state-of-the-art hospital ship dedicated to providing free surgery and training annually to thousands of people in Africa.

The announcement was made on April 8th during a ceremony attended by Capt. Gianluigi Aponte, chairman of MSC Group and MSC Foundation; Diego Aponte, president of MSC Group and Member of the MSC Foundation Board; and Mercy Ships founder Don Stephens.

This milestone meeting aimed to finalize an agreement to launch the ambitious project, generously kickstarted by a substantial donation from the MSC Foundation.

This donation underscores the commitment of visionary leaders to ensure access to critical healthcare for future generations.

The new ship will boast living quarters to accommodate approximately 600 crew members and guests.

Its hospital facilities will span two decks and 7,000 square meters, featuring six operating rooms, a fully equipped laboratory, and cutting-edge training spaces, including a simulation lab.

Mercy Ships will utilize this advanced infrastructure to bolster local surgical systems during its typical 10-month field service, addressing the urgent need to enhance access to surgical care and education in sub-Saharan Africa.

Speaking at the recent West African College of Surgeons (WACS) conference in Freetown, Sierra Leone’s Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh highlighted the country’s staggering 91% unmet surgical needs, emphasizing the imperative for collaborative efforts to address surgical deficits.

For his part, Don Stephens, the founder of Mercy Ships, affirmed the organization’s commitment to providing safe surgical care and education across African nations.

He expressed gratitude to MSC for their support and acknowledged that Mercy Ships’ mission is only made possible through the generosity of partners, volunteer crew, and divine provision.

Gert van de Weerdhof, CEO of Mercy Ships, emphasized that the new hospital ship will deliver state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to meet surgical needs in the regions served while also aiding host nations in developing their healthcare systems.

Diego Aponte, MSC Group President and Member of the MSC Foundation Board, went on to highlight Mercy Ships’ tangible support to thousands of families in the region.

This underscored MSC Group’s commitment to giving back to local communities and supporting Africa’s journey towards prosperity and sustainability.

Daniela Picco, MSC Foundation Executive Director, finished by expressed pride in the foundation’s support for Mercy Ships, which has impacted thousands of medical professionals and patients through surgeries and training programs since 2011.

Since its inception in 1978, Mercy Ships has provided over 117,000 specialized surgical procedures, ranging from maxillofacial reconstructions to cleft lip repairs, demonstrating its commitment to transforming lives.

Mercy Ships, a non-governmental organization, remains dedicated to strengthening local healthcare systems through sustainable surgical education, training, and advocacy initiatives.

With its new purpose-built hospital ship, designed akin to the Global Mercy™, Mercy Ships aims to expand its capacity for collaboration with host nations in training and advocacy efforts.

Operating hospital ships necessitates transporting essential supplies across oceans, a task facilitated by MSC Group’s logistical support since 2011.

 MSC’s expertise in infrastructure, logistics, and technical advice has been instrumental in preparing for the new vessel, ensuring efficiency in meeting Mercy Ships’ objectives.

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