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Mercy Ships, Sierra Leone health ministry announce next phase of life-changing surgeries  

Mercy Ships, Sierra Leone health ministry announce next phase of life-changing surgeries  

The Sierra Leonean Ministry of Health, in collaboration with international charity Mercy Ships, have announced preparations for the upcoming phase of free life-changing surgeries and educational initiatives for the people of Sierra Leone set to begin in August.

The Global Mercy is temporarily leaving Sierra Leone for a planned brief maintenance period, returning in August to continue its commitment to deliver free specialised surgeries and training for health professionals.

The charity’s largest hospital ship has been in Freetown since August 2023 in response to an invitation from His Excellency, Dr. Julius Maada Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. In line with the nation’s strategic healthcare plan, Mercy Ships has provided 1,979 surgeries and trained 145 healthcare professionals on board in that time.

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In addition, Mercy Ships has partnered with the Ministry of Health and the University of Sierra Leone to foster lasting improvements in the country’s surgical care system through educational initiatives. Currently, five students are being sponsored to earn their degrees as dental surgeons at the Université Gamal Abdel Nasser de Conakry in neighbouring Guinea, with the promise that they will later return to bolster Sierra Leone’s limited dental workforce.  Another initiative is the newly re-established nurse anaesthesia diploma course, with a current cohort of 20 registered nurses specialising in anaesthesia.

While the Global Mercy undergoes annual maintenance, a maritime requirement to ensure the safety of vessels for volunteer crew and patients, Mercy Ships will remain active in Sierra Leone, including the education, training, and advocacy team providing its usual support to healthcare providers off-ship.

The scope of surgical care will cover various specialties, including maxillofacial, general, paediatric general, and ophthalmic procedures.

Dr. Sandra Lako, Mercy Ships Country Director for Sierra Leone, said: “We were excited when His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio requested Mercy Ships extend its stay in Sierra Leone, and we are looking forward to the next phase when the ship returns in August as we continue to partner with the Ministry of Health and the University of Sierra Leone to strengthen surgical care in Sierra Leone.”

Minister of Health Dr. Austin Demby is proud of the partnership with Mercy Ships and Sierra Leone’s investment in surgical care.

He said: “Sierra Leone is making significant investments in the surgical workforce through training and professional development, implementing rigorous standards and protocols for surgical procedures. By prioritising quality and safety, Mercy Ships is helping us improve patient outcomes and build trust in our surgical landscape. It is imperative that we continue to work together to expand access to safe, affordable, free and timely surgical care.”

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