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Over 10-year partnership, MSC Group a 'lifeline' for Mercy Ships

MSC Group has provided free transport for more than 500 containers to Mercy Ships over the years
This month MSC Group and Mercy Ships are celebrating a 10-year partnership focused on bringing hope and healing in Africa.

Operating hospital ships involves transporting large amounts of essential supplies across the world to provide safe surgery and training. The MSC Group, a leader in container shipping, and MSC Foundation help meet these and wider needs.

500 containers transported free

MSC Group has provided Mercy Ships with increasing support over the past decade, 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 more than 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 start, this has included building a 'wall' of empty containers around the docked ship to create a safe hospital compound.

Broadened support

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 mobilized its client and partner networks to provide fundraising assistance, enabling the implementation of a program to combat Ebola, among other initiatives.

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 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.

'Our lifeline' 

'MSC Foundation is our lifeline, literally,' Mercy Ships Founder Don Stephens said. 'They bring all our consumables. That means everything we use — for the galley, housekeeping but especially the medical — is shipped to us by MSC ... 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 new Global Mercy, which is scheduled to 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.

'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,' MSC Group President Diego Aponte said. '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.'