Mercy Ship offering free medical care

Monday, March 7, 2011

A team of 30 surgeons and doctors with the Mercy Ship, a leading non-governmental ship-based medical organization in the world, is part of a crew of volunteers drawn from all parts of the globe. They have arrived in the country for an intensive six weeks of free medical treatment programme for Gambians.

Speaking to journalists at a press briefing held at the America Corner, which also coincided with a lecture and presentation conducted by Dr. Giles, the head of the team, said their mission to the Gambia is to provide a free medical treatment program to people suffering from cleft lip and cleft palate, and they will conduct surgery.

"The Africa Mercy Ship, which docked at the port in Freetown, where it offered similar medical services to the people of Sierra Leone, is equipped with effective safety and security features. This includes an automatic sprinkler system, a smoke detector system that pinpoints the exact location of the source of any potential fire, and machinery spaces covered by CO2 gas flooding and "Hi-Fog systems," Dr Giles added.

According to him, they will during their stay be providing surgery and screening for cleft lip patients at no cost, and people willing to attend can come to Polyclinic in Banjul on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

He noted that the Mercy Ships were created to transform people's lives, that is, of the world’s forgotten poor. He added that Mercy Ships operate as hospital ships, and land-based teams provide primary medical care, relief aid and community support to the most impoverished people on earth, free of charge.

Dr. Giles who is a specialist in reconstructing head and neck injuries after an accident, also told journalists, in a post lecture interview, that they have a lot of sophisticated medical equipment that they use to carry out operations and surgery.

"We realized that there is need for this surgery in the Gambia and also to teach and partner with RVTH. We have many invitations from many countries around the world, and the Gambia is lucky and an important country to have us, and we are also happy to be in The Gambia," he stated.

Dilating on the importance of the mission, Giles told journalists that their mission seeks to treat people who have cleft lip and palate, because they needed the treatment, adding that they will do a capacity-building programme for nurses who will in turn help the patients.

Their mission, he went on, will give them the opportunity to forge a strong partnership with the Ministry of Health and, in particular, Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital.

The Mercy Ship delegation also, on the same day, briefed the US ambassador Pamela Ann White, who attended with senior officials of the Embassy.

Author: Sainey M.K. Marenah