On April 7, people around the world will celebrate World Health Day by amplifying this year’s theme: building a healthier, fairer world. It’s a mission that strikes a particularly resonant chord with Mercy Ships. We are founded on the belief that everyone deserves safe, timely, and affordable surgery. For more than 40 years, we have been committed to meeting the global surgery crisis and providing lifesaving and life-changing care to those who would otherwise lack access. The dream of a healthier, fairer world ignited Mercy Ships — and it continues to guide us forward.
Lucy Quist, Mercy Ships international board member and the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Morgan Stanley, understands the vitality of this vision. With roots in both Ghana and the U.K., Lucy has published a book — The Bold New Normal: Creating The Africa Where Everyone Prospers — speaking directly to the dream of a healthier, fairer world.
In Lucy’s words, providing free surgery isn’t the finish line. It is just the beginning. For the patients we treat, surgery means more than you can imagine.
“Before they get surgery, a patient’s day-to-day life is really about survival,” says Lucy. “Many of these surgeries are critical. Their life is about not dying, not getting sick from another disease, not working, relying on others for help, trying to survive day to day. By having this surgical intervention, they have a real chance at thriving. Some people have surgery and can now go to school; go to work; look after their families.
“Really, an intervention isn’t just life-changing because their body changes. Their whole life changes. Suddenly, they can become a functioning member of their community and make a real contribution, as opposed to being dependent.”
Working Together to Build Sustainable, Stronger Healthcare Systems
We know that real, sustainable change can only happen when we work together.
This is why Mercy Ships Medical Capacity Building (MCB) programs partner with governments, hospitals, and medical professionals in the African nations we serve in order to strengthen and support the existing healthcare systems. These programs often continue long after the ships have sailed away from our host nation’s port.
“By being a part of this initiative, healthcare professionals have the opportunity to learn best practices that they can take back to their communities and local hospitals. Some of these best practices are basic, some are more complicated — but they all matter,” said Lucy. “In healthcare provision, every step matters. It’s not just about having one person with a big surgical brain. Knowing the right hygiene protocol among all healthcare workers, for example, makes a difference for patient outcomes.”
Doubling the Impact with a New Purpose-Built Ship
In addition to providing training and mentoring programs, we strive to make an impact in Africa through our hospital ships. The Global Mercy™, our newest vessel, will soon be fully equipped to join our flagship, the Africa Mercy®. As both a floating hospital and a floating training center with a state-of-the-art simulation lab, the Global Mercy will blend surgery and training in an unprecedented way. As a result, Mercy Ships will be able to share hope like never before.
“The world has had a hard time in 2020,” said Lucy. “The need remains great and is perhaps even greater after the pandemic. Now, Mercy Ships is doubling down. By God’s grace, Mercy Ships is going to do more than we usually do.”
Together, we can share hope of a healthier, fairer world. Together, we can transform healthcare systems on an individual and community level. Together, this is only the beginning. Want to join us in sharing hope and transforming lives? There are plenty of ways to get involved.