Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sierra Leoneans Welcome Mercy Ship into Port of Freetown

In response to an invitation from the President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, Mercy Ships program strategy has been carefully aligned with the country’s current five-year health care plan.

The Africa Mercy sails towards her home for the next
ten months in teh Port of Freetown, Sierra Leone.
This week marks the fifth time in 18 years that Freetown has welcomed a Mercy Ship; this time it is the Africa Mercy – the world’s largest non-governmental hospital ship. For the next ten months, Mercy Ships is offering its state-of-the-art hospital ship – with six operating theaters, lab, pharmacy, 78 beds, and an outpatient clinic – to partner alongside the Sierra Leonean government. The ship will provide free health care to the people of Sierra Leone and training for health care workers until November 2011.

In response to an invitation from the President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, Mercy Ships program strategy has been carefully aligned with the country’s current five-year health care plan.

Life-changing surgeries such as tumor removal, cleft lip and palate correction, cataract removal, orthopedics and plastics will be offered onboard the ship for individuals that qualify with these conditions. Potential patients have been encouraged to attend specific screening days to receive appointments for their specific medical needs. Advance teams have already conducted screenings in six locations upcountry, seeing more than 5,000 patients prior to the ship’s arrival.

Sierra Leone has made a significant effort to address health care concerns in their country, but still faces challenges. Last year, the nation implemented a free health care policy for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under the age of five. This initiative is very positive, but the nation still ranks at the bottom of the 2010 United Nations Human Development Index (at 158 out of 169). The infant mortality rate in Sierra Leone is 123 per 1,000 births. And with only one dentist for every one million people in Sierra Leone, as compared to 6,000 dentists per million people in the U.S., Mercy Ships investment in the health sector is welcome.

The Mercy Ships Eye Team will partner with the Kissy Eye Clinic to screen and schedule qualified individuals for surgeries. Cataract surgeries are performed in a simple 15-minute procedure, restoring sight for hundreds of vision-impaired individuals. Last year, the Mercy Ships Eye Team performed 2,512 eye surgeries on 2,331 patients. In 2009, Mercy Ships trained six ophthalmologists from Benin, West Africa, in the cataract correction technique. After training, the surgeons increased the number of procedures in their local clinics from 320 surgeries per year to 2000 surgeries per year (combined).

A big welcome from the dock!
In partnership with other international organizations the Mercy Ship has been invited to provide training for local medical personnel who will add capacity long after the ship leaves. The training/mentoring programs will include, but are not limited to, surgeons, nurses, biomedical technicians, hospital leadership, and lab technicians. In addition, agriculture specialists onboard ship will be involved with training of local partners who will in turn train farmers in aspects of sustainable, organic farming techniques to increase nutrition.

Since 1978, Mercy Ships has mobilized people and resources worldwide to provide free health care and sustainable development in the developing world. Each year volunteers from over 40 nations bring their own unique skill sets onboard the Africa Mercy. Positions include physicians, medical personnel, engineers, maritime crew, galley cooks, hospitality workers and teachers. All professional volunteers pay their own airfare as well room and board for the privilege of serving in Sierra Leone, helping to keep the provision of services free to the recipients.

Please click here to view a video of Medical Screening at the 2010 Togo Field Service, the Mercy Ship’s previous port of service.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sierra Leone Bound!

Smooth sailing for the Africa Mercy as she navigates her way 
to open seas as she departs Durban, South Africa.
Jim Paterson, Senior Vice President of Operations, reports that the Africa Mercy departed Durban on February 10th bound for Freetown, Sierra Leone via Cape Town.

Although the project encountered some delays the end result was everything we hoped for. After some initial settling in adjustments during the first 12 hour period the vessel performed very well indeed during the three day trip from Durban to Cape Town.

Mercy Ships is very grateful to all who participated on this large project – Southern African Shipyards and Controlmatic Gmbh as the major contractors as well as many sub contractors and suppliers many of whom gave special pricing for this project.

We are very proud of our four new MAN 5L21/31 generator sets and expect them to give many years of reliable service as well as a significant savings on fuel costs.

Once again, thank you to the many volunteers who contributed to the project over the last five and a half months, without each one of them the project would have been that more difficult and expensive.

When the Africa Mercy arrives in Freetown towards the end of February, the ship and her crew of volunteers will continue on its mission to bring hope and healing to the people of this West African nation.

The Africa Mercy leaves the sanctuary of Cape Town's Victoria and Albert
Waterfront continuing on her voyage to Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Nearing Completion Of The Project

In an update from the shipyard in Durban, South Africa, Jim Paterson, Senior Vice President of Operations, said that the Power the Vision project is coming close to a successful completion. 

All 4 new generator sets have been tested to full load capacity and finally testing and adjustments on the electrical distribution switchboard are currently under way.

“The Shipyard is working on the last details of piping and deck plating and all other systems are being brought on line.” Paterson said. “The new air conditioning system is now up and running.”

“The Main Engine Control system is undergoing final checks prior to starting engines for testing on Thursday.”

He added “We are still planning on departing Durban on schedule bound for Freetown, Sierra Leone.”

He personally thanked the many volunteers who labored hard on this project to bring it to completion.

Watch a time lapse video where the Africa Mercy's drydock is filled with water as she moves berths to continue maintenance work.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rigorous Testing To Start Soon

According to Project Manager Ken Berry, work is rapidly progressing toward the goal of starting the first generator set during the 3rd week of January. Shipyard and subcontractor crews are working in very tight quarters to finish up the piping systems and electrical wiring necessary to begin the testing phase.

Some members of the very hardworking team of volunteers
who are lending their skills to complete this important project.
With such a complicated system, a rigorous testing program will begin with the start of the first gen set engine and will finish with all the gen sets tuned to the new system and each other to obtain maximum performance and efficiency.

Ken concludes that "The shipboard crew are holding up well in spite of the summer heat of Durban.  Everyone is looking forward to when the generator sets are running and stable enough to allow the air condition systems to be commissioned and run on a regular basis.

We have had a super team of volunteers this year and the quantity and quality of work accomplished stands as testimony to their expertise and dedication. I could not have asked for more from this wonderful group and only hope they have been as blessed by their labor of love, as I have been."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Setting A Brisk Pace!

Ken Berry, Project Manager reports from Durban that the work onboard the Africa Mercy continues at a brisk pace by the two main contractors and 8 or their subcontractors, all of whom are busy with piping, electrical and support systems.

The two Generator Rooms and the Main Switchboard Room are crowded with electricians, pipe fitters, welders, fire watchmen and cleaners.

Strength and tightness testing of tanks and piping systems has commenced on the portions of these systems that are now completed.

A big push is on to complete major system installation work by Christmas Day, in order that system commissioning can begin Christmas week.

As soon as all support systems are checked out and proven to be reliable, the new Generators can be started up and run thru their paces.

We are anxiously awaiting that day!  

Monday, November 22, 2010

Shipyard Work Continues

Work on connecting the new MAN Generators and CARRIER Chiller units continue onboard the Africa Mercy. The ship has now left drydock in is docked inside the shipyard.

Carrier Chiller unit in place ready to be wired up.

Genset in place and being hooked up. Deck plates going back in.

Cabling being run and getting in place to hook up.
photos Chuck Dodgen

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Putting It All Together.

Special projects team members continue working on projects aboard the Africa Mercy in dry dock in Durban, South Africa.

Special project crew member, Arie Roest, works on
the electrical system for the control panels.

One of the two new Carrier air conditioning units being installed

Work has started putting down framing for the deck plating.
Note the steps that have been attached to the generator foundation

Controlmatic has mounted the control boxes for the generators in
preparation for wiring the system together. One of the gensets is visible in
the background and the box in the foreground

Shipyard workers continue readying more pipe for the project.

Photos courtesy of Mercy Ships and Chuck Dodgen.