Magic of the Medical Ship
After six months at sea and 500 miles overland, the Jubilee Hope now brings healthcare to about 400,000 people in isolated communities in the Lake Victoria region. ROBIN OBINO reports
AUnited Kingdombased charity that supports poor children around the world has launched its latest medical ship on Lake Victoria, the second largest fresh water Lake. Vine Trust with its headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland, is a medical initiative that targets 100,000 patients annually on islands with little or no access to basic healthcare. Jubilee Hope, as the ship hospital on Lake Victoria is known is the first of its kind in Africa.
The floating hospital will be based on the Tanzanian side and will bring medical care to the residents of the Lake’s 3,000 islands who previously had to hire boats to take them to hospital on land. Jubilee Hope is a British Aeroscope (BAE) Systems plc-compliant ship with a full dental surgery, operating theatre, two consulting areas, an eye surgery and a laboratory.
The 160-tonne vessel left Greenock, Scotland in January and sailed around Africa to Mombasa. It is manned by Vine Trust volunteers. Princess Anne launched the facility as part of a tour of Vine Trust projects across Tanzania where she was met people who benefit from the ship’s medical services and susceptible children supported in Vine Trust children’s centres.
Speaking after the launch in Mwanza recently, she described it as a great achievement and as a special initiative to celebrate Her Majesty’s Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee.
“There were a number of Diamond Jubilee Projects, but this is one of the few that will reach such a huge number of people,” she said. The project, running under the banner Connecting People to Change Lives, has been supported by, among other international corporations, the Wood Group PSN ( WGPSN), an international energy services giant.
Vine Trust Chief Executive Officer, Mr Willie McPherson, said he was impressed by the goodwill that Jubilee Hope generated among communities in the Lake Zone of Tanzania and the rest of the island communities.
“On behalf of everyone at Vine Trust, I would like to thank the Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal Anne for travelling to Tanzania, launching the Jubilee Hope Project and for her continuing support as Patron of Vine Trust. At Wood Group PSN, our core values are at the heart of everything we do and our involvement in this project gives us the opportunity to bring our social responsibility to life, whilst bringing our UK engineering expertise to Africa,” he said.
On the floating hospital are an overall medical director and other personnel to run the ship. The British High Commissioner to Tanzania, Ms Dianna Melrose, said the team has the knowledge and expertise and that all they needed is a ‘ vehicle’ to enable them do their job.
“I am so impressed, not least by the physical feat of getting the ship to Lake Victoria. It is going to make a real difference to the lives of communities around the lake. We will provide the necessary support,” she said.
This is the third medical ship the charity has launched to benefit remote communities in developing countries. And as Jubilee Hope started its operations in East Africa, its sister ships treated its milestone one million patient in the Peruvian Amazon.
Jubilee Hope is expected to serve the region for the next 25 years
The project, running under the banner Connecting People to Change Lives, has been supported by, among other international corporations, the Wood Group PSN (WGPSN), an international energy services giant