The 37,000-gt Global Mercy was welcomed in Rotterdam, Netherlands over the last two weeks as the ship opened its doors to the public and global dignitaries for tours before it will begin active service in May in Dakar, Senegal – the first of many missions in the next 50 years on the African continent.
With Senegalese ministerial delegates in attendance, the official announcement of Senegal as the first host country for the Global Mercy was made on board the ship. A special event was hosted for the Minister of Health and Social Action, Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr who came to Rotterdam with Dr. Serigne Gueye Diop, Minister to the Presidency, Momar Gueye, Senegal’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, and Dr. Babacar Gueye, Director of the Fight against Disease.
“We will receive the Global Mercy in May in Dakar and I am convinced that on board the hospital many Senegalese will find a smile back on their faces. We are honoured to be the first country to host the Global Mercy. That is why our country is actively preparing for the coming of the Global Mercy and I know it will be a big celebration. The population is anticipating this event because it is a marriage of love, of trust and of hope,” said Minister Diouf Sarr.
This announcement was witnessed by a specially invited group of ambassadors from Cameroon, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Sierra Leone, and South Africa.
Speaking to the delegation gathered on board, Mercy Ships CEO Gert van de Weerdhof added: “We look forward not only to the commissioning ceremony in Dakar, but also to a growing partnership with Senegal and other African nations to make an even bigger impact on the lives of individuals and support the development of surgical delivery systems in Africa.”
Operated by Mercy Ships, the Global Mercy will be the ‘partner-ship’ of the current vessel, the Africa Mercy which has been back in Dakar Senegal since early February this year. Mercy Ships expects to more than double the impact of its work with this new vessel, both with life-changing operations and with education and training of local health professionals in host nations within Africa.
When fully operational, the Global Mercy will be able to accommodate 950 people, including 641 crew members who consist of volunteers from all over the world. In addition to the hospital, the ship also houses first-class training facilities in which Mercy Ships will contribute to the sustainable development of local medical care in many countries.
The commissioning of this new and second hospital ship has been confirmed for May 24 at the Port of Dakar and will be organised around two other major events.
Firstly, an international symposium on strengthening surgical, obstetric and anaesthesia care systems by 2030 in Africa will be held. This symposium – jointly organised by the government of Senegal and Mercy Ships in collaboration with the World Health Organisation Regional Office for Africa, the West African College of Surgeons, and the international non-governmental organisation Smile Train – will bring together nearly 200 participants.
Secondly, Mercy Ships will celebrate 30 years of partnership in Africa, a milestone that will be commemorated on May 25 in Dakar on Africa Day. Organised by the government of Senegal under the patronage of President Macky Sall, it will be an opportunity to mobilise political decision-makers and public, private, and community leaders to work together for the integration and scaling up of surgical care and national health development strategies.
It was also announced that a Presidential Conversation will be held on this day with the goal of creating dialogue between African Heads of State, “African Friends of Mercy Ships,” “Friends of Africa,” and international leaders on leadership for equitable access to surgical, obstetric, and anaesthesia care in Africa.
The Global Mercy is a unique ship in the passenger class: 174 meters long, 28.6 meters wide and a gross tonnage of 37,000. It has six operating rooms, 200 beds, a laboratory, general outpatient clinics and eye and dental clinics. The total area of the hospital is 7,000 m². Mercy Ships estimates that more than 150,000 patients will receive life-changing free surgery over the Global Mercy’s lifespan.