By Alexander Alonso, Country General Manager, Benelux
I recently had the rare privilege of being invited by one of BD’s philanthropic partners, Mercy Ships, to board the world’s largest civilian hospital ship – the Global Mercy – while it was docked in Rotterdam. The truly extraordinary ship, which features six operating rooms, a cutting-edge medical laboratory and houses more than 600 volunteers is being built to eventually head to Africa, where it will provide free, world-class surgical care to thousands of patients who lack healthcare access.
I was overcome with a mix of humility and pride as I heard Mercy Ships’ inspiring volunteer medical team share personal stories that highlight how the care they deliver transforms the lives of vulnerable patients. BD has provided more than $2.5 million in philanthropic cash and product donations to support Mercy Ships’ life-changing work, over the course of our 28-year partnership. Support like ours helps make Mercy Ships’ work possible – and I can think of no better way that we can, as a company, demonstrate our commitment to Advancing the world of health.
I am deeply impressed with the innovative, strategic nature of Mercy Ships’ approach. Because 50% of the world’s population lives near a coast, Mercy Ships can provide more surgeries for more people, thanks to their “floating hospitals,” like the Global Mercy. In regions where resources and infrastructure are scarce, fully equipped medical ships are often the most efficient way to deliver free surgical care. Perhaps best of all, Mercy Ships’ impact on African communities doesn’t end when their floating hospitals depart. They train local healthcare professionals, provide them with new medical tools and resources and renovate local healthcare facilities so life-changing surgical care can continue being delivered long after they set sail for a new port.
One of the highlights of my time on the ship was learning that donated BD products touch nearly every patient that comes aboard. In the ship’s medical laboratory, which bears BD’s name, donated BD products are used to diagnose infection and determine patients’ health statuses. In the operating theaters and patient wards, BD products help prepare patients for surgery, disinfect surgical areas and safely administer medication. BD diagnostic instruments will also help facilitate vital COVID-19 testing aboard the Global Mercy.
Each year, 16 million people die due to lack of access to surgical care, 93% of whom are in Africa. It truly makes me #proudtobeBD, having the chance to meet some of the most well-trained, selfless medical professionals in the world, who will deliver life-saving, life-changing surgical care to millions of those underserved patients.
Our philanthropic investments in Mercy Ships are just one way we deliver on our environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitment to improve Community Health, which you can learn more about, here. For more information about Mercy Ships, or to learn how to volunteer or donate to support their inspiring work, please visit: www.mercyships.org.
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