Mercy Ships and MAF. Stronger together with land, air and sea.

MAF plane with people stood in front of it. The Mercy Ships and MAF logos are across the bottom of the photo.

Mercy Ships and MAF. Stronger together with land, air and sea.

Imagine desperately needing medical care but you live in such a remote location that you’re unable to reach the closest town. The rainy season has left the roads impassable and the only bridge out of your village needs to be repaired.

This is a reality for people across parts of Africa living in remote and inaccessible regions.

To combat this inequality, Mercy Ships and Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) are delighted to be renewing their partnership to help bring life-changing surgical care to isolated communities across Africa.

Launching in Madagascar, this partnership will enable teams to access hard-to-reach areas and transport patients in need of critical surgical interventions.

Mercy Ships Patient Selection Team prepare to go on a MAF plane in Madagascar for field consultation to assess patients.

Mercy Ships Patient Selection Team prepare to go on a MAF plane in Madagascar for field consultation to assess patients.

“Traveling by road in Madagascar can be incredibly challenging due to the rough terrain and poor infrastructure,”

Michael Jurgensen, MAF Madagascar Country Director, said.

“In many cases, reaching remote villages can take days by car, draining valuable time and energy.

“However, with MAF Madagascar’s support, the [Mercy Ships] patient selection team can cover vast distances swiftly and safely, enabling them to visit multiple locations within a short period. Flying not only saves time for the selection team but also ensures the team can travel to evaluate and select patients from the most isolated areas for surgery on-ship at a later date.”

A 2016 study of Madagascar revealed that only 20% of the population can access surgical services within a two-hour timeframe, and up to 95% would face financial ruin if they required surgery (source: BMJ Global Health). With a scarcity of surgeons — approximately 1 for every 100,000 people — the prospect of receiving necessary surgical treatment seems unattainable for many (source: WHO).

Mercy Ships Patient Selection Team on a MAF plane in Madagascar for field consultation to assess patients.Mercy Ships Patient Selection Team on a MAF plane in Madagascar for field consultation to assess patients.

Mercy Ships Patient Selection Team on a MAF plane in Madagascar for field consultation to assess patients.

Bernard van den Bosch, who has worked for both MAF and Mercy Ships, and is currently the Director of the Africa Services Centre at Mercy Ships, expressed his enthusiasm:

“We are confidently re-engaging with MAF because together we are stronger. The country of Madagascar has many hard-to-reach areas, and MAF is the key to accessing them. Non-profit organisations can ‘compete,’ but ultimately, we all serve the same goal. I see many opportunities for future collaboration and intensive joint efforts.”

Bastiaan de Waal, Africa Regional Director of MAF, added:

“By transporting Mercy Ships teams with our aircraft to the interior of Madagascar, we provide help, hope and healing to residents with the surgical care they desperately need. The need is high in these areas, and these people in isolated communities are equally entitled to care. We are pleased to partner alongside Mercy Ships to support this often-forgotten group. Being each other’s hand and foot is what we are called to do and we have a shared synergy of vision and values.”

This renewed collaboration between MAF and Mercy Ships exemplifies how strategic partnerships can enhance humanitarian efforts, ensuring that more people receive the critical medical care they need. The two organisations previously partnered from 2014 to 2016 in Madagascar and have worked together in Liberia.

Mercy Ships’ hospital ship, the Africa Mercy, has been docked in Toamasina since February and is delivering surgery and training. The ship is actively collaborating with Madagascar’s Ministry of Health to identify the most pressing needs and strengthen the country’s surgical systems through its education, training, and advocacy programme.



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