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MERCY SHIPS SIERRA LEONE – SECOND DAY ON BOARD OF GLOBAL MERCY

The whole day was dedicated to exploring the hospital. We met Karen, the manager, who told us several patient stories and explained how they go about selecting patients. She emphasised the difficulty of having to choose, knowing that they can’t operate on everyone. They can perform 20,000 operations in one mission, but there is demand for 300,000!

That is why they want to leave behind knowledge and expertise by training specialised personnel. They will come back, but in the meantime some patients need to be cared for. Convalescence and rehabilitation are often long, and diseases or cancer can recur.

The focus is on the individual patient, because each one is special.

We have a responsibility to help them. We cannot remain indifferent just because we are more fortunate

We have a responsibility to help them. We cannot remain indifferent just because we are more fortunate.

This ship has five operating theatres, rehabilitation facilities, equipment including the latest CT scanner, an intensive care unit, an infectious disease unit, an orthopaedic unit, a surgical unit and an ophthalmology unit. It was a shame we could not visit a local hospital to see the difference, which is said to be considerable.

The day after we visited the Hope Centre, Mercy Ships’ onshore hospital, which receives patients before and after hospitalisation.

Rehabilitation after paediatric orthopaedic surgery takes about twelve weeks, and about two weeks are needed for diagnosis and preparation.

Sometimes patients do not show up, but over the past four to five years the absentee rate has dropped from 20% to 4% because Mercy Ships also provides transportation.

Interpreters, locals and volunteers – people of different nationalities – work together to serve those most in need, finding ways to communicate and work together.

This is true integration! In a society often inundated with negative news, it’s vital to make space for positive stories, and Mercy Ships has many stories of hope to share.

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