This month MSC Group and Mercy Ships are celebrating a unique ten-year partnership focused on bringing hope and healing in Africa.
Mercy Ships is an international charity that uses hospital ships to provide free healthcare services and medical capacity building for poor and underserved communities without easy access to medical facilities, providing lifesaving and life-changing surgeries for thousands.
Operating hospital ships involves transporting large amounts of essential supplies across the world to provide safe surgery and training. Mercy Ship’s partnership with the MSC Group and MSC Foundation helps meet these and wider needs, with the MSC Group’s cargo business having grown to become a world leader in container shipping and logistics, while MSC Cruises is now the third-largest cruise brand in the world.
MSC Group has used these growing resources to provide Mercy Ships with rapidly increasing support over the past ten years, enabling it to concentrate its resources on delivering vital healthcare and medical training in sub-Saharan Africa.
Initially, the idea was to provide container shipping to keep the hospital ship Africa Mercy® supplied, and a total of over 500 containers have been transported free of charge to date.
However, the strength of the MSC Group’s commitment meant that its cargo businesses in Africa also immediately became involved to help the hospital ship establish its services effectively in every port. The infrastructure support and logistical expertise now provided on the ground ranges from MSC's local shipping agency and MSC/TiL terminals handling cargo, to MSC and MEDLOG offering free logistics, storage and inland transportation services. From the very start, this has included building a “wall” of empty containers around the docked ship to create a safe hospital compound.
MSC Cruises stepped in very soon afterwards, providing maritime best practice and ship management expertise to support the Mercy Ships crew. The MSC Group has in addition mobilised its client and partner networks to provide fundraising assistance, enabling the implementation of a programme to combat Ebola amongst others.
In 2019, the partnership was extended to event sponsorships and programmatic funding through the newly formed MSC Foundation, including for a women’s healthcare initiative in Sierra Leone and PPE shipments to Mercy Ships partners in 11 African nations during the COVID pandemic.
Thanks to this comprehensive end-to-end support, now led and coordinated by the MSC Foundation, Mercy Ships has been able to perform 19,740 surgeries and 218,100 dental procedures during the partnership, while providing medical training for 15,150 participants.
As Mercy Ships Founder Don Stephens explained, “MSC Foundation is our lifeline, literally. They bring all our consumables. That means everything we use – for the galley, housekeeping, but especially the medical – is shipped to us by MSC. That’s MSC Foundation and Mercy Ships partnering together to go far. We’re in this for a long-term partnership that will bring sustainable, transformational development to the people of Africa.”
The partnership now includes the newest Mercy Ship, the Global Mercy® which heads to Senegal in 2022, following final outfitting in the Port of Antwerp and a spring send-off from Rotterdam. MSC Group provided logistical support and the container delivery of supplies needed to build the Global Mercy.
Celebrating the tenth anniversary of the partnership, Diego Aponte, MSC Group President, commented: “When embarking on this partnership, we understood that MSC’s global reach, expanding ocean and landside networks and expertise in shipping and logistics would be a perfect fit for Mercy Ships, enabling us both to achieve greater impact. What Mercy Ships has been able to accomplish as a result is truly extraordinary! We are delighted to celebrate its success and are extremely proud of everything we are doing together.”
About the partnership on MSC Foundation website.