John Menary

Mercy Ships

The 60 minute
piece with Doctor Farmer and his alternative delivery methods of medical care
in Haiti and countries in sub Saharan Africa motivated me to write about mercy
ships. Mercy Ships is an organization founded in 1978, describes its self as “the
world’s leading non-governmental ship-based medical organization”.  Operating its current hospital ship the m/v (motor
vessel) Africa Mercy, the organization’s vessel with its 400 volunteers (both
medical and technical)  operate primarily
in western Africa.

In these “cruises”, the ship provides clinical services, public health, community
health, epidemiology, and health education.
This ship is a full service (and obviously) very mobile hospital. These comprehensive
hospitals have full diagnostic facilities including eye clinics and dental
facilities and a pharmacy.

One great
thing that this organization does is its shore side work. This includes dental hygienist
visiting primary schools to education African children on the importance of
oral hygiene as well as providing basic preventative care for themselves. Expanding
shore side missions and in the pattern of Dr. Farmer is what Mercy Ships calls “capacity
building” working with indigenous medical professionals.

Another reason
I picked this topic is because of my future career. I am going to be a marine
engineer. I was attending the Great Lakes Maritime Academy, in their marine
engineering program. I ran into some economic problems at the school, so I had
to take a year leave of absence to get my money situation in order; so I can
back to Michigan State University to knock out my last few credits (to get my mandatory
bachelor’s degree). When I complete the program at the Great Lakes Maritime
Academy and am a licensed marine engineer, I could see myself volunteering some
of my off time (which is one of the great things about the marine
transportation industry there is lots of time off) to help people in the third

Since I will
not be a medical professional, I could explain to them to look at the children
that they are providing preventive care education and address them in a culturally
sensitive meathod method.


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