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Mercy Ships Returns to Madagascar

by ANS Editor
via Mercy Ships
By Jeremy Reynalds, Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service (jeremyreynalds@gmail.com)  
TOAMASINA, REPUBLIC OF MADASGASCAR  (ANS. SEPT 1) The hospital ship Africa Mercy, operated by Mercy Ships, has docked in the port city of Toamasina, Madagascar, to begin a second season of service.  
African Mercy shipAccording to a news release, during the next nine months, Mercy Ships will provide free specialized surgeries and healthcare services to the world’s fourth-largest island nation.
The Africa Mercy returns after a two-month hiatus for annual maintenance in Durban, South Africa, and was welcomed into port by a crowd of well-wishers. 
The world’s largest civilian hospital ship will build on its prior seven-month visit in which 1269 surgeries were provided free of charge.
Robin MacAlpine, Managing Director for the Africa Mercy, said in the news release, “Mercy Ships is pleased to offer even more free healthcare services to Madagascar in the months ahead. We are working hard to make this care widely available to people in even the most remote regions. Selection teams will be accessing patients in eleven localities nationwide until February, 2016.”
MacAlpine expressed appreciation for the Mercy Ships Patient Transportation Fund and launch of the Premium SMS number 353, a partnership initiative led by the three major Malagasy telecommunications companies: Orange, Telma and Airtel. 
“These mobile telephone companies have united in an inaugural humanitarian partnership in Madagascar,” MacAlpine continued. “We are very grateful for the support of these companies in bringing healing to thousands of their fellow citizens. We also thank all the Malagasy who have risen up to help contribute to patients’ transportation costs through this initiative.”
Over half of the 400-plus volunteer crew members are returning to Madagascar after serving onboard during the previous season of service. They will work alongside around 280 Malagasy, most of whom are re-employed to assist in operational, medical and maritime areas. The crew from more than 35 nations will provide surgical and dental services to Madagascar’s population of nearly 23 million.
In addition to offering mentorship and further training to Malagasy healthcare professionals, a permanent women’s health clinic will be opened in Toamasina in September. 
From mid-2016 onwards, the news release stated, the clinic will be run by The Freedom from Fistula Foundation. 
This partner organization already manages three other such clinics in Africa – including one in Freetown, Sierra Leone, which was also initially set up by Mercy Ships.
During the Africa Mercy’s nine-month stay in the port of Toamasina, Republic of Madagascar, Mercy Ships plans to provide more than 2,000 surgeries to adult and pediatric patients onboard, to treat over 10,000 at a land-based dental clinic, and to provide holistic healthcare training to Malagasy healthcare professionals. 
About Mercy Ships
Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free healthcare services, capacity building and sustainable development to those without access in the developing world. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $1 billion, treating more than 2.43 million direct beneficiaries. Each year Mercy Ships has more than 1,600 volunteers from more than 40 nations.
For more information click on www.mercyships.org.
Photo captions: 1) Africa Mercy tied up. 2) Jeremy and Elma Reynalds.
Jeremy and Elma Reynalds useAbout the writer: Jeremy Reynalds is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, a freelance writer and also the founder and CEO of Joy Junction, New Mexico’s largest emergency homeless shelter, www.joyjunction.org. He has a master’s degree in communication from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University in Los Angeles. His newest book is “From Destitute to Ph.D.” Additional details on “From Destitute to Ph.D.” are available at www.myhomelessjourney.com. Reynalds lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife, Elma. For more information contact: Jeremy Reynalds at jeremyreynalds@gmail.com. 
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