The MSC Foundation and MSC Group have signed an agreement with international charity Mercy Ships International to support the construction of a brand-new hospital ship that will deliver free surgery and training to thousands of people in Africa.

"With a significant donation from MSC, Gianluigi Aponte, Chairman of MSC Group and MSC Foundation, Diego Aponte, President, MSC Group and Member, MSC Foundation Board and Don Stephens, Founder, Mercy Ships agreed to start the shipbuilding and outfitting project this year," says an official release from MSC Foundation.

Gianluigi Aponte says: “I spent part of my childhood and early years in the shipping industry in the Horn of Africa, it is a region close to my heart. I saw firsthand the challenges faced by many local communities there and this shaped my conviction that improving the availability of healthcare would bring real and lasting impact for them. It has been extremely gratifying to work with Don and provide this crucial support through his unique organisation Mercy Ships. Our partnership has reaped extraordinary results already and now we are on the verge of expanding their fleet to increase this support. I truly look forward to seeing this new ship set sail to help more communities across Africa.”

Mercy Ships has provided more than 117,000 life-changing and lifesaving specialised surgical procedures since it was founded in 1978, the release added. "These include facial reconstruction, contracture release for severe burns, correction for acute orthopaedic problems and cleft lip and palate repair. The pioneering non-governmental organisation also builds the capacity of local healthcare systems through sustainably-designed surgical education, training and advocacy programmes. Over the years, Mercy Ships has trained more than 54,300 local professionals in their areas of expertise."

Stephens says: “The investment of many around the world towards a fleet of hospital ships is ensured by the future of our new purpose-built vessel. The mission of Mercy Ships to bring hope and healing is only possible through the generosity of our partners and volunteer crew. Today, I am grateful to MSC for their support.”

Gert van de Weerdhof, CEO, Mercy Ships adds: “This new hospital ship will bring state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to support the nations we serve. This new vessel and her future crew will enable us to meet surgical needs while supporting host nations as they develop healthcare systems with their next generation of medical professionals.”

Hospital ships require continual medical supplies, which are transported across the oceans to enable their surgical and training work, the release added. "MSC Group ensures logistical support and container delivery of supplies to all ports of service. Its support in Africa ranges from MSC's local shipping agency and MSC and TiL terminals handling cargo to MSC and MEDLOG logistics, storage, and inland transportation services. In addition to this, MSC has provided extensive technical advice in the preparation for the new vessel, working with Mercy Ships to develop a design that will improve efficiency for the organisation’s needs."

MSC Foundation says in its LinkedIn post: “After building Mercy Ships’ first custom-built vessel, Global Mercy, in 2022, with this new ship we wanted to go even further by providing a substantial donation that will kickstart the shipbuilding and outfitting works. This makes it the biggest project for the MSC Foundation since our establishment in 2018!”

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