Caring for Africa’s children

While the COVID-19 pandemic caused us to temporarily pause surgical operations onboard our hospital ship in Africa, we’re as steadfast as ever in our mission to serve those in need. In addition to leading virtual medical training courses and donating vital personal protective equipment (PPE) to our partner nations in Africa, we have expanded our on-the-ground operations with a new partnership. We are collaborating with CURE International — a Christian nonprofit organisation that operates a global network of pediatric surgical hospitals — in a joint effort to provide expanded specialised surgical care to children with disabilities in Africa.

Dr Sarah Kwok Brings Her Skills to CURE Hospital in Uganda

As part of this collaboration, Mercy Ships sent several long-time volunteers to share their skills and experience with CURE hospitals across Africa.

Dr Sarah Kwok, a British volunteer anaesthesiologist, spent six weeks volunteering at the CURE Children’s Hospital of Uganda, where she treated patients in need of specialised neurological care.

Dr Sarah has served with Mercy Ships as the Anesthesia Supervisor since June 2019. Her decision to join the long-term crew came after spending just two weeks volunteering onboard. The experience was so impacting that she felt compelled to resign from her job as an anaesthetic consultant in the U.K. in order to serve on board full time.

As part of CURE International’s team in eastern Uganda, Dr Sarah worked alongside the anaesthesia team to provide high-quality intensive care for young patients, which she says was an eye-opening experience. “The children often have complex neurological problems, which makes caring for them challenging. By walking alongside the team here, we are setting high standards of care and ensuring the patients get the very best they deserve. The team is transforming lives and giving patients a future filled with hope and expectations of a normal life.”

In addition to treating patients, Dr Sarah helped to train nurses and doctors at the hospital, as well as medical students at the local university. This desire to leave a lasting impact is central to the mission and vision of Mercy Ships, and it’s a goal that CURE International shares. The CURE Children’s Hospital of Uganda is a teaching centre for paediatric neurosurgery in sub-Saharan Africa. “The hospital is a regional centre of excellence and frequently has visitors from all over Africa coming to learn their surgical techniques,” said Dr Sarah. “CURE Uganda is dedicated to training the next generation of doctors, neurosurgeons, and anaesthesiologists.”

The ability to continue helping under-served patients during this time is an experience Dr Sarah doesn’t take for granted: “I’m so grateful that Mercy Ships has collaborated with CURE so that together, we can continue to provide medical care to the forgotten poor in various countries in Africa.”

By sharing our resources with CURE International, we can offer further treatment to vulnerable children in African countries that lack the medical infrastructure and safe surgical care they need. Without proper medical resources, many children living with disabilities can’t afford vital care, leading to a long and expensive wait for surgery. Our partnership with CURE International means that both of our organisations can continue addressing the global surgery crisis and provide essential services to patients who need immediate, life-changing care.