Dakar, Senegal, August 15 2019: Today marks the second time that the Port of Dakar has welcomed a Mercy Ship to its shore. This time it is the Africa Mercy – the world’s largest non-governmental hospital ship.

In response to an invitation from the President of Senegal, His Excellency Macky Sall, the Mercy Ships program strategy is to partner with the Ministry of Health and Social Action , His Excellency Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr and other organisations to support the continued improvement of the country’s health care delivery system.

During the Africa Mercy’s 10-month stay in the port of Dakar from August 2019 through June 2020, Mercy Ships plans to provide 1,200 to 1,700 life-changing surgeries on board, to treat over 4,000 at a land-based dental clinic as well as providing health care training in partnership with local medical professionals.

“We are privileged to return to Senegal. Together with current government and health professionals, we hope to contribute to the alleviation of suffering for those with least access to surgical care as the country continues to refine their national surgical plan, in line with the government’s Plan for an Emerging Senegal (PES) policy framework (1),” stated Donovan Palmer, Mercy Ships CEO.

Mercy Ships partnership with a country involves a five-phase process, beginning approximately two years before ship arrival, includes 10 months with the ship in-country, and continues for around two years after the ship leaves.

Thanks to donations from partnering organisations and individuals, the surgeries on board ship, training and mentoring are provided at no cost to the patients and local professionals. These surgical procedures will include tumour removal and other maxillofacial reconstruction and plastic surgery, cleft lip and palate repair, cataract removal, obstetric fistula repair, oral and dental surgery, and orthopaedic help for clubfoot and bowed legs. Potential patients have been encouraged to attend regional pre-selection days to receive appointments for their specific medical needs.

President Sall and Minister of Health and Social Action Sarr have requested that Mercy Ships focus on the needs of patients both in the capital and interior regions of Senegal. In order to fulfill that request, patient selection took place prior to the ship arrival in Thies and Diourbel to select patients with treatable surgical conditions. Using mobile technology, Mercy Ships selection experts approvepatients for a field consultation by a Mercy Ships medical team. It is expected that patients will also be selected from Fatick, Kaolack, Kaffrine, Louga, Saint Louis, Matam, Tambacounda, Kedougou, Kolda, Sedhiou and Ziguinchor.

An off-ship dental clinic will be established in the Case Foyer, Sanglakam, thanks to the Mayor of Sangalkam, and patient selection will take place weekly. Eye surgeries are expected to begin at the end of the year.

The Africa Mercy is a surgical hospital ship and cannot treat long-term illness such as diabetes, hypertension, sickle cell anaemia, ulcers, HIV/Aids or heart conditions.

Although Senegal has a solid health care system in place, there is still a need for capacity building and surgeries, especially in the rural areas where approximately 55% of the population lives (around 8.8 million) and access is limited.

In partnership with other international organisations, the Mercy Ship will also provide training for selected local medical personnel who will continue to offer medical care long after the ship leaves. The training/mentoring programs will include maxillofacial, plastics, and fistula surgeons. Medical capacity building in areas of nursing, anaesthesia, sterile processing and biomedical engineering will take a “Training-of-the-Trainer” approach.

In addition, agricultural specialists on board the ship will be involved with training of local partners, who will in turn train farmers in aspects of sustainable, organic farming techniques to increase nutrition, thus improving general health.


1. Plan for Emerging Senegal (PES)

About Mercy Ships

Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class health care services, capacity building and sustainable development aid to those without access in the developing world. Founded in 1978, Mercy Ships has worked in 56 countries providing services valued at more than $1.53 billion, with more than 2.7 million direct beneficiaries. Each year, more than 1,200 volunteers from over 40 nations serve with Mercy Ships. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, health care trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort. Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time. Mercy Ships Australia, one of 16 international support offices, is based on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. For more information, visit www.mercyships.org.au

For further information, please contact:

Melissa Mason
National Office Manager
Mercy Ships Australia
(07) 5437 2992
[email protected]

High resolution photos are available upon request, with attribution to Mercy Ships.