The Global Mercy, the world's largest civilian hospital ship, made its debut in Africa in the port of Dakar where it will stay for four weeks to train health professionals, an AFP journalist noted on Monday.
Senegalese President Macky Sall formally welcomed the Global Mercy on Monday morning at a ceremony attended by Guinea-Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo and Comoros President Azali Assoumani.
The giant ship - measuring 174 meters long and 28.6 meters wide and comprising 12 decks - arrived Friday in the port of Dakar and will stay there for four weeks until the end of June, before returning in 2023 to offer surgical care to poor populations.
Its arrival coincides with a new tragedy that has shaken the country and highlighted the shortcomings of Senegal's health system. Eleven babies died on May 25 in a fire in a public hospital in Tivaouane (west).
The Global Mercy hospital covers about 7,000 square meters, and includes "six operating theatres, 102 acute care beds, seven intensive care beds and 90 convalescent beds," according to a statement from the international NGO Mercy Ships, which works to improve access to health care in developing countries in Africa.
Based on the organization's 43 years of experience and more than five years of studying specifically the results of the Africa Mercy, a hospital ship that has been in service since 2007 to help the poorest in West and Central Africa, Mercy Ship wanted to add another ship of "greater capacity" and "with the same objectives.
During its stay in Senegal, the crew intends to participate in the training of 260 Senegalese health professionals, alongside the crew of the Africa Mercy, which has been in the port of Dakar since February (until November) and is performing surgery on board.
At the end of June, the Global Mercy will return to the Canary Islands for the "complete and final dressing of the ship".
Mercy Ships plans to return in early 2023 to conduct training and surgery: maxillofacial and reconstructive surgery, tumor removal, cleft lip and palate repair, obstetric fistula repair, etc.
The health ministers of Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Cameroon and Congo-Brazzaville were also present.