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Ebola outbreak delays 'Mercy Ships' aid to Africa

Monday, August 18, 2014 - 10:55pm

The Ebola crisis in Africa is now delaying aid the world's largest civilian hospital ship, but Mercy Ships is still committed to the region.

Back in April, Mercy Ships officials made the decision to cancel their voyage to Guinea, when the outbreak began.

They have now delayed their arrival to their next destination, waiting for any sign that it's safe to go in.

This current Ebola epidemic has the organization waiting in the wings, hoping to hear it will soon be safe to dock their hospital once again.

"Looking at the situation, it seemed they're not gonna get it under control, we determined for the safety of our patients and for our crew that we would change to another African county but another country unaffected by Ebola," said Michelle Bullington, program design director with the organization.

So the plan was to head to the African country of Benin, which borders Nigeria, which now, has also been hit by the disease.

"We have decided to delay the deployment of our ship to Benin for a few weeks to give us some time to asses the situation and make sure again that the safety of our crew and our potential patients is guaranteed," said Bullington.

The vessel is built to treat large numbers of patients, but not deal with medical disasters such as Ebola.

"We have multi-person wards and we have limited isolation wards and of course there's close proximity to the rest of the ship and the entire crew that are living on board.  So we've had to take these precautions in order to protect the crew because the safety of our crew and also the patients that we bring on board for different surgeries is very important to us, it's paramount," said Andrew Clark, director of organizational development.

Once this disease does finally life from this region, the need for mercy ships, will be that much greater.

"This is placing a burden on an already over burdened medical system.  There are going to be significant needs in those areas in the years to come, and we're committed to Africa."

Although they are still waiting to dock in Benin, mercy ships does have connections where they can send supplies to the people of Africa.

If you would like to learn how to help out you can learn more at their website

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