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    Monday, July 8, 2024

    Mercy Ships, MAF Reaffirmed Collaborative Efforts to Provide Surgical Interventions to Remote Communities in Africa

    This collaborative initiative, established in Madagascar, will facilitate access to remote regions and provide transportation for patients requiring urgent surgical procedures.

    Hospital ship and aviation charities have renewed their partnership to provide life-altering surgical interventions to patients in remote African regions, utilizing various modes of transportation including land, air, and sea.

    Mercy Ships, a humanitarian aid organization, and Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) have reaffirmed their collaborative efforts to provide transformative surgical interventions to remote communities throughout Africa.

    Mercy Ships operates cutting-edge hospital vessels, offering pro-bono surgical interventions and medical services to sub-Saharan nations grappling with limited access to secure surgical care. MAF's mission is to deliver assistance, optimism, and recovery via aviation to individuals residing in isolated and impoverished regions.

    The recently updated memorandum of understanding between these two faith-based charitable organizations allows Mercy Ships to expand their reach further inland to a broader demographic across Africa, supported by MAF's logistical assistance. This partnership, initiated in Madagascar, will enable teams to access remote areas and transport patients requiring critical surgical interventions. This collaboration presents opportunities for individuals in the most isolated and inaccessible regions of the country. Additional joint initiatives are being explored in other African nations.

    "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 and underserved areas for surgery on-ship at a later date.”

    A 2016 study conducted in Madagascar uncovered a concerning reality: only a mere 20% of the population has access to surgical services within a two-hour timeframe. Furthermore, a staggering 95% of the population would face severe financial hardship if they were to require surgical intervention. (Source: BMJ Global Health) (). The scarcity of surgeons, with an approximate ratio of 1 surgeon for every 100,000 individuals, exacerbates the challenge, making essential surgical treatment appear unattainable for a significant portion of the population. (Source: WHO).

    Bernard van den Bosch, with experience at both MAF and Mercy Ships and currently serving as the Director of the Africa Services Center at Mercy Ships, conveyed his excitement: "We are confidently re-engaging with MAF as we recognize that collaboration enhances our capabilities. Madagascar presents numerous geographically isolated regions, and MAF possesses the expertise to access these areas effectively. While non-profit organizations may engage in competition, our ultimate objective remains aligned. I foresee ample opportunities for future cooperation and intensive joint endeavors."

    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 demonstrates the effectiveness of strategic partnerships in enhancing humanitarian efforts, ensuring the provision of critical medical care to a greater number of individuals. The two organizations have a history of successful collaboration, having previously partnered in Madagascar from 2014 to 2016 and also in Liberia.

    The Africa Mercy®, a hospital ship operated by Mercy Ships, has been docked in Toamasina since February, providing surgical services and training. The ship is working closely with Madagascar's Ministry of Health to assess the most urgent needs and enhance the country's surgical capabilities through its educational, training, and advocacy initiatives.

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