MSC to support building of hospital ship for Africa

The MSC Group and its philanthropic arm, MSC Foundation, have sealed an agreement with the charity Mercy Ships International for the building of a hospital ship.

The vessel will deliver free operations and training annually to thousands of people in Africa.

It will accommodate about 600 crew members and guests, while its hospital will span two decks, featuring six operating rooms, a laboratory and training spaces such as a simulation lab.

Captain Gianluigi Aponte, chairman of MSC Group and MSC Foundation, and Diego Aponte, MSC Group president and member of the MSC Foundation Board, finalised the agreement with Don Stephens, Mercy Ships’ founder Don Stephens.

The project will be kickstarted with a “generous” anchor donation from MSC Foundation.

Captain Aponte said: “I spent part of my childhood and early years in the shipping industry in the Horn of Africa; it is a region close to my heart.

“I saw first-hand the challenges faced by many local communities there and this shaped my conviction that improving the availability of healthcare would bring real and lasting impact for them.

“It has been extremely gratifying to work with Don and provide this crucial support through his unique organisation Mercy Ships.”

Yeiddy Ferreira, hand therapist, at work with a plastics patient.
Yeiddy Ferreira, hand therapist, with a patient.

Since Mercy Ships was founded in 1978, the organisation has provided more than 117,000 specialised surgical procedures.

Mercy Ships, a non-governmental organisation, also supports local healthcare systems with education, training and advocacy programs.

Thanking MSC for its support, Stephens said: “The mission of Mercy Ships to bring hope and healing is only possible by the generosity of our partners, volunteer crew and the provision of God.”

Gert van de Weerdhof, chief executive of Mercy Ships said: “This new vessel and her future crew will enable us to meet surgical needs, while supporting host nations as they develop healthcare systems with their next generation of medical professionals.”

Diego Aponte added: “This vessel is yet another milestone in our vision to support the African continent with achieving a truly prosperous and sustainable destiny.”

The charity currently has two hospital ships, the Africa Mercy and the Global Mercy.

MSC and Mercy Ships have been partners since 2011, with the MSC Group ensuring logistical support and container delivery of supplies to ports.

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