One positive thing that the COVID-19 pandemic has done is to make people aware of the importance of strengthening and supporting health care systems. Mercy Ships has, and always will, provide essential surgery for the world’s most vulnerable. But alongside this work, Mercy Ships also works to strengthen and support African health care systems through education, training, mentoring, infrastructure, equipment and supplies.

Over the last 30 years, we have trained over 43,300 health care professionals and more than 6,400 local health care workers who go on to train others. The long-term impact of this medical training provides sustainable health care in these countries long after we have gone.

We learned so many lessons from how quickly Ebola spread throughout African countries during the 2014-2016 outbreak. Two of the main reasons the disease spread so rapidly and killed so many people, were the low capacity of African health care systems and the lack of basic sanitation.

Currently as a response to COVID-19 in Africa, Mercy Ships is providing urgently needed equipment and supplies to Senegal, Guinea, Cameroon and Benin. We have also pivoted our services to allow our Medical Capacity Building programs to be delivered through tele-health and online learning, enabling medical health workers to be trained and mentored.

Some Mercy Ships volunteers have returned home and further more will in the coming days to assist with the COVID-19 fight in their home nations.

Although the world is facing challenging times, together we can make a difference in our world. Today, our world is different than it was yesterday, but one thing will never change: the people we help still need us – and they will need us tomorrow, even more than they do today.

Thank you for standing alongside us, bringing hope and healing to the world’s forgotten poor. We simply couldn’t do it without you!