GARDEN VALLEY TEXAS , February 8, 2013 — Meetings with the Republic of the Congo's Ministries of Health and Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Congo-Brazzaville's western port city of Pointe Noire this past week culminated in the signing of agreements to confirm that a Mercy Ship will dock in this Central African nation as its next African port of call.
An initial protocol was signed in the nation by HE President Denis Sassou Nguesso during a visit by Mercy Ships President/Founder Don Stephens in May 2012. This additional "Accord de Siége" document now paves the way for final logistical and pre-arrival planning in the ramp up to the hospital ship's anticipated arrival in the Port of Pointe Noire in August of this year for a 10-month stay.
"Our more than 20 years of service in West Africa has propelled us to reach out further to include Congo-Brazzaville and the nation's desire to increase health care delivery and training to its citizens. Central Africa has always been a part of our long-term aspiration, but this will be the first visit of a Mercy Ship to the Congo," said Stephens.
Mercy Ships programs will address requests by the authorities in Congo-Brazzaville to support continuing educational opportunities for practicing professionals. Those may include mentoring in specialized maxillofacial surgery techniques, orthopaedic trauma, nursing, pediatric anesthesiology, and infection control. Partnership with local hospital infrastructures to help improve quality of care, teamwork and communication will be interwoven into the program design.
"With this signature from the Government of the Congo, we hope that the cooperation together will be fruitful and further strengthened, and that the most vulnerable populations will derive the full benefit," stated Chantal Itoua-Apoyolo, Sécretaire Générale Adjointe.
Prior to deploying the world's largest nongovernmental hospital ship to the Republic of Congo, Mercy Ships assessment teams have been in the country to consult on the design of capacity-building projects before, during, and after ship deployment.
Formerly part of the French colony of Equatorial Africa, the Republic of the Congo (French: République du Congo) ranks 137 on the Human Development Index  and is also referred to as Congo-Brazzaville. To the south and east of it is the Democratic Republic of Congo.