31 Aug Mercy Ships signs collaborative agreement with the World Health Organization to strengthen surgical care in Africa
The agreement was signed in Dakar, Senegal, by WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti and Dr Peter Linz, International Chief Medical Officer of Mercy Ships.
“This agreement epitomises what the Transformation Agenda in the African Region is all about – joining hands with new partners, working together towards improved, equitable access to healthcare services – to transform people’s lives, bringing hope and healing on the African continent,” said Dr Moeti. “I hope our partnership will do what you [at Mercy Ships] do so well: provide vitally needed services for those who need it desperately, as well as building up capacity in countries.”
During their bilateral discussion, Mercy Ships and WHO highlighted the gaps in safe, affordable and timely access to essential surgical care, and underscored the need to ultimately work to ensure that no one is left behind.
A report published in The Lancet earlier this year found that there is a severe lack of surgical provision in African countries: the number of operations provided annually was 20 times lower than the crucial surgical volume required to meet a country's essential surgical needs each year. Furthermore, when African surgical patients can get the surgery they need, they are twice as likely to die after their planned surgery than the global average.
In his remarks, Dr Linz said: “The solution to this daunting and complex problem will require hard work and collaboration from all stakeholders. We are hopeful that our formal collaboration with WHO will be one of those pillars in strengthening access to surgical care across Africa.”
The agreement between Mercy Ships and WHO covers a range of activities including strengthening health systems and building the capacity of health workers, providing technical assistance to the integration of surgical, obstetric and anaesthesia services in National Health Sector Strategies and Plans.
It also includes contributing to health infrastructure development and supplies in partner hospitals and clinics aligned with Mercy Ships programmes, and in collaboration with country priorities, as well as documenting and disseminating surgical best practices for improving the quality of care.
Dr Linz was accompanied by Mercy Ships Ambassador for Africa – Dr Pierre M’Pele.
About Mercy Ships:
Two-thirds of the world’s population cannot get access to safe surgery when they need it. As a result, 17 million people die every year from conditions requiring surgery. This is higher than the number who die from TB, malaria and HIV/Aids combined. Mercy Ships is working to tackle this crisis.
Mercy Ships operates the largest charity-run hospital ship in the world, delivering free, safe medical care to some of the world’s least-developed countries. This “floating hospital” is staffed almost entirely by volunteers, who give their expertise for free to help treat dental and eye problems, cleft lips and palates, tumours, club feet, childbirth injuries, burns and various other conditions.
Since 1978, Mercy Ships has visited 55 countries, providing services worth more than £1 billion that have directly helped more than 2.5 million people. The organisation has also trained 40,000 local professionals in their areas of expertise to leave a legacy that lasts.