19 April 2009

Mercy Ships ~ Buoyant Healthcare Infrastructure

I just read A taste of Sierra Leone: A student report posted on the MIT Global Health Initiative blog by my colleague Anjali Sastry. Anusuya Das shared class-field experiences observing the fragmented and undercapitalized Sierra Leone hospital and care infrastructure. This got me thinking about how to uplift such infrastructure rapidly and effectively and with enduring consequences. Partly this is a larger challenge of accelerating development in exponential increments over time. But we need transitional solutions now. So in the case of healthcare, perhaps a greater role for hospital ships? I remembered that post Indian Ocean tsunami and post-Katrina, there were stories about US Navy hospital ships. Sure enough, the USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort. But it also turns out there's a wonderful organization called Mercy Ships which runs the largest non-governmental hospital ship, the M/V Africa Mercy which after visiting Liberia is now in Benin. What a great idea! To get an informal day-to-day sense of the inspirational work by the doctors, nurses, crew, and staff, check out Mercy Ship Adventure by South African Murray Tristan Crawford or Love for Liberia by American Katie O'Hara!

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