Sierra Leone’s President, Julius Maada Bio has met with the CEO of MercyShips, Gert van de Weerdhof who briefed him on the return of the Mercy Ships to Sierra Leone in August 2023, following the partnership agreement signed in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the engagement the government of Sierra Leone and Mercy Ships extended their existing protocol agreements for their newest hospital ship, the Global Mercy to visit Sierra Leone.
“Thank you, Mercy Ships, for your continuous humanitarian and medical support towards providing treatment to people with various medical conditions worldwide. This partnership agreement which was signed pre-covid includes a 10-month Global Mercy deployment for free surgical care in partnership with local institutions in Sierra Leone. The hospital ship will serve as a platform for training our healthcare professionals to build capacity. Programs will ensure that the positive impact of Mercy Ships will continue long after the ship leaves the shores of Sierra Leone. This partnership will support our vision to ensure a functional national health system delivering efficient, high-quality healthcare services that are accessible, equitable and affordable for all,” stated President Julius Maada Bio
Mercy Ships CEO Gert van de Weerdhof highlighted the partnership with the government of Sierra Leone. “We are excited to confirm that we are planning a future return to Sierra Leone. This will be our sixth field service working alongside this nation. Now we can fully step into an important season of assessing existing needs and identifying how we can best support to deliver hope and healing to those in tremendous need of surgical care.”
When the Global Mercy docks in the host nation’s port, crew will provide free surgical care for thousands of people, training for local healthcare workers and more. All services by Mercy Ships are provided free of charge to the participant, thanks to donors around the world and their support of the volunteer professionals onboard their hospital ships.
“This long-lasting partnership paves the way for Mercy Ships to continue to engage closely with the government of Sierra Leone and to strengthen our joint commitment to improving access to safe surgical care,” stated Dr. Sandra Lako, Country Director for Mercy Ships in Sierra Leone.
“A collaborative approach is the strongest way to strengthen health systems,” added Dr Mark Shrime, International Chief Medical Officer for Mercy Ships.
Meetings were facilitated by Dame Ann Gloag, Mercy Ships international board member who has also been working with Sierra Leone for many years.
Past Freetown, Sierra Leone port visits by a Mercy Ship include: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2011.
The Global Mercy is scheduled to visit Dakar Senegal early 2023 for several months prior to Sierra Leone in August 2023.