Mercy Ships talk from Debbie Hodge, Rotary GB&I president 2018-19

Monday 26th October 2020

On Wednesday 21st October, Debbie Hodge of Ware Rotary Club in Hertfordshire joined us for our weekly virtual meeting to talk about Mercy Ships.

Mercy Ships is a faith-based international development organisation that deploys hospital ships to some of the poorest countries in the world, delivering vital, free healthcare to people in desperate need. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 55 countries, providing services valued at more than £1.3 billion. Mercy Ships is working to eradicate the diseases of poverty and effectively do itself out of a job.

Mercy Ships tackles these diseases of poverty through three steps:

  1. Offering direct medical care and surgery to local people;
  2. Training and mentoring local health professionals; and
  3. Improving healthcare infrastructure.

To achieve this, Mercy Ships delivers a customised five-year partnership model with every country it is invited to support. As Debbie told us, Mercy Ships aim to leave each country in a better state than when they arrived!

Why use hospital ships?

Worldwide, 5 billion people lack access to safe, affordable, timely surgery. Many of them live in developing countries where healthcare infrastructure is limited or nonexistent, or where there’s a shortage of trained healthcare providers.

Fortunately, more than 44% of the world’s population lives within 100 miles of a coast — which is why modern hospital ships are used to bring world-class volunteer medical professionals directly to the places they’re needed most. The ships can even carry other vehicles to help reach remote areas!

Rotary Foundation Global Grant

A Rotary Foundation Global Grant of $1.125 million was approved earlier this year with Mercy Ships to fund equipment for the latest addition to their fleet, the Global Mercy which will launch later next year. The money will provide a range of sophisticated medical equipment for Decks 3 & 4: the ship’s hospital decks with six operating theatres, three infection isolation rooms, 147 ward beds, six post-operative recovery beds and four intensive care beds. It will also provide training and education for local healthcare workers.

Rotary is one of the world’s leading membership and humanitarian service organisations, with 1.2 million members globally. Members of Rotary volunteer their time to make a difference in their local communities and around the world through projects which support education, fight disease, promote peace, provide clean water and much more.

The Rotary Foundation is Rotary’s own and only charity. Founded more than 100 years, the Foundation has spent more than $4 billion in life-changing, sustainable projects in the form of grants.

In Great Britain and Ireland Rotary has 45,000 members in more than 1,700 clubs, all dedicated to serving their local area through service projects and community events. For more information and to get involved with Rotary visit

The talk from Debbie was really informative and her passion for the projects shone through. See the Mercy Ships website for more information:

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