Why would you have a hospital on a ship?  And if you have one, why not two?
July 2, 2024

Why would you have a hospital on a ship?  And if you have one, why not two?

By Terese Stevenson, Vice President of Grants

[In early 2024, two staff members from The Rees-Jones Foundation visited the Global Mercy, one of two ships in the Mercy Ships fleet offering medical care and aid in Sierra Leone. This trip was very exciting for our team given our history with the organization. The Foundation’s first grant ever was awarded to Mercy Ships in 2007. 17 years later and the mission continues].


“All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.”  2 Corinthians 1:4  The Message


Faith groups play a significant role in providing health care around the world. The motivation is concern for the healing and wholeness of every human being. But why create a hospital on a ship? Mercy Ships says that fortunately, more than 44% of the world’s population lives within 100 miles of a coast — which is why they developed a modern hospital ship model to bring world-class care directly to the places it is needed most. The model is nimble and allows for the increase of healthcare system capacity to numerous countries all over the globe.

Most African countries lack the infrastructure and facilities necessary to provide and deliver adequate levels of health services and products for their populations. Africa also faces a severe shortage of trained medical personnel, with just three percent of the world’s health workers deployed in Sub-Saharan Africa. New approaches have been required that include collaboration between public and private entities, along with strategies that are tailored to local realities in order to provide better and expanded access. Working to strengthen national healthcare systems in addition to delivering “mercy care” is critical to success.

The Rees-Jones Foundation team has a heart and an intentionality in our grantmaking and relationship building to ensure that as many children and families have access to care and compassion ministry work, as we winsomely witness to the power of the true Healer. In 2006, we were introduced to the work of Mercy Ships and were convicted by their true Gospel approach of bringing faith, hope, and love to so many who needed that affirmation; besides being in situations of desperation regarding physical concerns that needed medical intervention.

Mercy Ships operates two of the world’s largest private hospital ships to deliver free, world-class healthcare services, medical capacity building, and health system strengthening in countries where patients have little access to safe surgical care. The organization is intentional about coming alongside government healthcare ministries and the local medical community to align their projects and services to specific country and partner needs. As well as completing thousands of surgical procedures onboard its floating hospitals, Mercy Ships volunteers work closely with host nations to improve the way healthcare is delivered across the country, by training and mentoring local medical staff, and helping renovate hospitals and clinics. The organization has identified a 17-country region primarily on the coast of West Africa. The majority of these countries rank at the bottom of the UN Development Index and are all in need of health care development and supports. Mercy Ships is striving toward a day when partner countries no longer require a Mercy Ship presence, because the countries would then have the capacity to meet their own surgical demands with increased healthcare infrastructure and a well-resourced workforce.

The Rees-Jones Foundation, following our own stated mission, has made efforts through a range of grants to help expand health services for persons, primarily children, who suffer from disabilities as well as critical conditions causing suffering and compromising quality of life. This goes to our consistent mission of “helping others experience the love of Christ in tangible ways”.  The Foundation has provided funding for Mercy Ships through six grants since 2006 which have been targeted to help increase the organization’s operational capacity and overall effectiveness. The Foundation’s first-ever grant in its history was awarded for Mercy Ships in 2006 and we have been excited to journey with Mercy Ships over the years. They have proven that a hospital on a ship can be a very effective healthcare delivery model, and more importantly transform the life trajectories of thousands of patients.



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