Africa Mercy Docks in Benin
In recognition of World Humanitarian Day today, the Africa Mercy – the world’s largest charity hospital ship run by Mercy Ships – has docked in the port of Cotonou to provide over 1,700 life-changing surgeries onboard, treat over 8,000 at a land-based dental clinic, and provide holistic healthcare training to Beninese health professionals.
Mercy Ships helps hundreds of patients in Africa who have been shunned from society due to physical deformities, such as cleft palates, club feet and tumours, integrate back into their communities. This is the fifth visit by a Mercy Ship to Benin.
Benin is considered to be one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking at 166 out of 187 counties according to the United Nations Humanitarian Development Index.
The international volunteer crew of the Africa Mercy, many of whom are British, were treated to national music and dances as part of the festivities as the ship arrived in Benin. A brief tour of the ship was provided for the heads of state and dignitaries. The screening process for patients will begin next week.
On the ships’ arrival, Madame Claudine Gbenagnon Talon (of Benin), First Lady of the Republic of Benin, said: “Behind all statistics, there is a story, a life, a person who needs a new hope, a treatment or a cure. I wish that this enriching collaboration of Benin with Mercy Ships will continue to grow year after year for the well-being of the population.”
Dr. Lucien Toko (of Benin), Director of the Cabinet of the Ministry of Health, added: “Ladies and gentlemen, the arrival of the Africa Mercy will constitute an excellent occasion to give and to receive – an opportunity to share knowledge and experience, to the benefit of the health professionals of our country.
“It’s the time to align ourselves again with the international organisation, Mercy Ships, who with its charitable works and efforts will help to relieve the sorrow of the population and bring back the smiles of our children.”
Lea Milligan, Executive Director of Mercy Ships UK, said: “We are delighted to announce that the Africa Mercy and her crew of more than 400 professional volunteers from over 40 nations, will now spend the next ten months in the Republic of Benin to deliver direct surgical services and bring hope and healing to thousands of patients in need of medical attention.
“Mercy Ships is committed to the delivery of safe surgery. Not only do our volunteers perform thousands of successful surgeries during each field service, but they also play a key role in delivering successful educating programs for local health workers.
“Through one-on-one mentoring, structured observation and our internationally recognised group courses, we will work closely with local health care professionals to impart knowledge, skills, and a professional work ethic. Ultimately it is our goal to help improve the capacity of the Beninese health system and, in collaboration with the Government of Benin, inject hope into country’s healthcare landscape.
“As it’s World Humanitarian Day today we would also like to honour our volunteers and thank them for their dedication as we begin our next field service. Our volunteers are the lifeblood of Mercy Ships and allow us to provide free medical services to the poorest of the poor.”