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Mercy Ships and Philips Foundation: Navigating access to healthcare together

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Oct 17, 2023

By the Philips Foundation team

Navigating the oceans, the Global Mercy, the world's largest civilian hospital ship, symbolizes more than just a beacon of hope. Initiated by Mercy Ships and amplified by the mission of the Philips Foundation, it's a testament to what can be achieved when quality healthcare meets compassionate outreach.

Mercy Ships

Philips Foundation, at its core, has an unwavering commitment: to improving access to quality healthcare in underserved communities across the globe. This mission aligns with the work of Mercy Ships, which has been touching lives through its marine medical facilities. The onboard Philips CT scanner is just a prime example of this commitment in action.

Halimatou's story is emblematic of the vital necessity of such initiatives. 

Born and raised in Sierra Leone, she had a life overshadowed by a significant mandibular tumor. As it continued to grow, her family, like many in regions underserved by advanced medical care, faced an array of obstacles. Limited resources, lack of specialized medical facilities, and high healthcare costs presented barriers to treatment. But hope emerged on the horizon when the Global Mercy anchored off her country’s coast. 

Aboard this ship, Halimatou's diagnosis and treatment plan were swiftly put into motion. As emphasized by Martha Henderson, the onboard Radiology Technologist: “Being able to accurately diagnose is the foundational step in a patient's medical journey. Without this CT technology, the surgeons would be unable to accurately assess and plan safe surgery for patients like Halimatou.”

The story of Mansour and Serigne from Senegal further underlines the potential of access to high-quality healthcare on board the Global Mercy. From a young age, both boys grappled with leg developmental issues, evident from the noticeable outward curve of their legs known as bowlegs.
The incredible brave journey of Serigne, in photos:

Their potential despair turned to hope with the arrival of the Global Mercy. Backed by CT technology and the expertise of its medical staff, their path to recovery became visible. 


“The role of the CT scanner on board has been pivotal in facilitating accurate diagnoses and ensuring optimal patient outcomes,” Martha said. “With its short scanning times, it reduces breath-hold time, decreasing patient anxiety. We were able to obtain diagnostic quality imaging by prioritizing patient safety and minimizing radiation dose without compromising scan quality. The CT scanner also provides emergency imaging for the 500+ crew on board the vessel.”


These voices underline not only the advancements in medical technology but also the human-centric approach adopted by the ship's healthcare personnel.


Over a 10-month journey, out of the 2,500 to 3,000 operations performed, a significant number lean heavily on the expertise of the CT scanner. It's not just about numbers, but about the lives touched, altered, and rejuvenated through these medical interventions.


As Mercy Ships continues its voyage, touching shores from Senegal to Sierra Leone and many more, they reaffirm a promise: that with collaboration, innovation, and sheer will, quality healthcare can be a reality for all. As the journey continues with Ghana as the next stop, the collaboration between Mercy Ships and Philips Foundation stands as proof of a unified vision: a future where technology and humanity navigate side by side toward a hopeful horizon.

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