Hope and healing on its way to Madagascar

People walking across a bridge over a field towards buildings in Madagascar

Hope and healing on its way to Madagascar

Mercy Ships is delighted to bring hope and healing to Madagascar by providing transformative surgical education as well as life-changing free surgeries to patients on board the Africa Mercy.

These operations will cover a range of specialties including maxillofacial and Ear, Nose and Throat, general, paediatric specialised general, paediatric orthopaedic, and reconstructive plastics.

“Madagascar faces a shortage of surgical support from both local and international partners, especially in the most vulnerable areas. We appreciate Mercy Ships’ approach in reaching underserved communities. As we open 28 district hospitals, each requiring at least two surgeons, we look forward to collaborating with Mercy Ships to strengthen our surgical capacity,” said Dr Lethicia Lydia Yasmine, secretary general for the Ministry of Health in Madagascar.

A 2016 study found that only 20 per cent of Madagascar’s population can access surgical services within two hours, and up to 95 per cent of the population would face financial ruin if they required surgery. With only approximately 20 physicians for every 100,000 people, necessary surgical treatment is out of reach for many.

This is why, for the patients who will come on board, the opportunity to receive safe surgery represents a new beginning and restored hope – not only for themselves, but often for their families and wider communities.

Mercy Ships is working with Madagascar’s Ministry of Health to identify the greatest needs and work with partners to strengthen the surgical systems in the long term. This education, training, and advocacy (ETA) strategy involves increasing the number of surgical providers available to patients, providing training to those across the surgical ecosystem, co-creating sustainable educational programmes in coordination with host countries, creating a network of healthcare providers, and advocating for the place of surgery in healthcare on an international level.

This focus aligns with a need for quality education and training that emerged in a recent evaluation carried out by Mercy Ships in Madagascar.

“There is a huge desire within the health system in Madagascar to improve the quality of education,” said Esperant Mulumba, Mercy Ships Country Director in Madagascar.

“We will be able to leverage the availability of the ship in the port of Toamasina as a platform through which we can strengthen the surgical training programme that the government has by providing residencies and other sorts of training opportunities for local surgeons, anaesthetists, and other professionals of the healthcare system, particularly those related to the surgical ecosystem.”

The ten-month field service will be the fourth visit since 1996, with the most recent taking place in 2015-2016. Over the course of these three previous hospital services, Mercy Ships worked with the government and Ministry of Health to provide a total of 2,951 surgeries and more than 52,000 dental procedures. In addition to providing life-changing surgical and dental care, Mercy Ships has also had a historic focus on education, with a total of 2,019 healthcare professionals receiving training from Mercy Ships in the past.

“In our last service, we were able to provide life-transforming surgeries that have allowed the people that benefited from them to be part of the communities they come from and allowed people to return to their jobs. They brought a certain hope that otherwise would not have been experienced… an impact that we can’t measure,” added Esperant.

“We’re seeing professors that are still teaching the simulation courses that were initiated by Mercy Ships, and we’re seeing the interns that are still benefiting from this.”

If you have a desire to make a meaningful impact, now is the time. Take the first steps to find your place on board and find your purpose in this mission.