The Suez Canal has donated free passage to the world’s newest hospital ship Mercy Ships’ newbuild Global Mercy. The ship is currently on the last leg of her journey to the Port of Antwerp, where it will remain until early next year as it is further equipped and crewed.
According to Mercy Ships, the Senegalese and Egyptian governments worked together so that the ship could transit the canal free of charge. The non-profit estimates that the cost savings will translate to thousands of lives saved in Africa over the long run.
“On the initiative of and led by President MackySall of Senegal together with an active involvement of his ambassador in Brussels, the President and the authorities of Egypt have agreed to guide the Global Mercy through the Suez Canal free of charge and without any cost to the charity,” said Bert van Dijk, international board member and president of Mercy Ships Belgium. “This is a wonderful example of a unique collaboration between two heads of state to support Mercy Ships and contribute to the improvement of healthcare in Africa.”
The Port of Antwerp is donating to the non-profit by offering a free berth and support. Volunteers from home and abroad will set up and finish the Global Mercy. This includes the installation of medical equipment and IT systems, as well as the supply and crewing of the ship for its first mission.
“This project highlights the collaboration between Port of Antwerp and Mercy Ships,” said Annick De Ridder, chairman of the Port and Alderman of Antwerp. “The social commitment in the port community is very high, so we are not alone in our support. Dozens of companies in our port already support Mercy Ships structurally and will do the same in the equipping of the Global Mercy.”
The Global Mercy will be the ‘partner ship’ of the current hospital ship, the Africa Mercy. Mercy Ships expects to more than double the impact of its work with the new vessel, both with life-changing operations and with the education and training of local caregivers in the poorest countries in Africa.
During its missions, the Global Mercy can accommodate 950 people, including 641 crew members, who consist of volunteers from all over the world. In addition to the hospital, the ship also has first-class training facilities with which Mercy Ships contributes to the sustainable development of local medical care in many countries.
The Global Mercy is a unique ship in the passenger class: 174 meters long, 28.6 meters wide, and a gross tonnage of 37,000. It has 6 operating rooms, 200 beds, a laboratory, general outpatient clinics, and eye and dental clinics. The total area of the hospital department is 7,000 m².
In the spring of 2022, Mercy Ships plans to open the ship to the public for tours in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, before beginning active service with the Global Mercy in Dakar (Senegal), the first of many new missions in the next 50 years.
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