Mercy Ships Welcomes First Patient in Madagascar, Marking New Era In Africa

Mercy Ships welcomes first patient in Madagascar, marking a new era in Africa. 
Baby receives surgery as international healthcare charity marks milestone 
for operating in two African nations at once.

Ten-month-old Anjara became the first patient to receive free life-changing surgery from Mercy Ships in Madagascar since the international Christian charity returned to the island nation. 

Anjara’s surgery marks a significant landmark for the organisation which is operating two hospital ships at once in Africa for the first time.

While the Africa Mercy delivers patient care and surgical training in Madagascar, the Global Mercy is simultaneously serving patients in Sierra Leone.

“It is just amazing to span the east and west of Africa. It really is the beginning of a next chapter” remarked Nathan Jansen, Africa Mercy managing director.  “This day is the culmination of many years of work and preparation. It is truly special to welcome Anjara as our first patient, heralding a new chapter for Mercy Ships.

“As Mercy Ships expands its work across the continent, healthcare access and quality continues to grow. The dedication and hard work of our volunteers and staff, coupled with the generous support of our donors, have made this historic moment possible.”  

This marks Mercy Ships’ fourth healthcare service in Madagascar, following previous visits in 1996, 2015 and 2016. Over the course of previous visits, Mercy Ships collaborated with the government and the Ministry of Health to provide more than 6,425 life-changing surgical procedures and over 52,395 dental procedures. In addition to these surgeries, Mercy Ships has a longstanding commitment to education, having trained 2,019 healthcare professionals in the past.      

On Tuesday 28 May, the starting signal was given as Dr Parker, a long-term volunteer surgeon, led the hospital in prayer before the baby, little Anjara underwent a transformative surgery for her bilateral cleft lip. 

Anjara’s father, Mamy Jean Victor, expressed his gratitude: 

I thank God for sending Mercy Ships to help my daughter so she can be like other kids. I hope their work continues for other children in need.

Lalaina, Anjara’s mother, was filled with profound gratitude and relief when she heard about her daughter’s surgery date.

She said:

I thank God that Mercy Ships is here to help repair my baby’s cleft lip.

Through an education, training, and advocacy strategy, the organisation, in collaboration with Madagascar’s Ministry of Health, aims to increase the number of surgical providers, deliver training across the surgical ecosystem, develop sustainable educational programmes, establish a network of healthcare providers, and advocate for the importance of surgery in healthcare globally.      

Dr Lethicia Lydia Yasmine, Madagascar’s Secretary General of the Ministry of Health, believes that the key obstacles to advancing surgery and anaesthesia in the country are a lack of staff, reduced capacity, resource limitations, and inequity in access to surgical care. One specific barrier to access to surgery is a lack of insurance, causing costs to be too high for many patients to access care.   

During this year’s healthcare service in the Port of Toamasina, Mercy Ships will offer direct medical services to more than 1,000 patients, simultaneously mentoring and training healthcare professionals to strengthen surgical and anaesthetic systems in the country.   

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