Ailsa Malone, a 26 year old dentist from Glasgow, has recently returned home after volunteering on the world’s largest non-governmental floating hospital.
The Africa Mercy is a 16,000 tonne state-of-the-art hospital ship run by international charity Mercy Ships with a crew of more than 450 volunteers from over 40 nations.
Mercy Ships delivers free health care and education, specialising in a wide range of medical needs. Dental care, however, is a key part of their work as dental services are almost non-existent in the countries the charity visits. This is particularly the case for Madagascar, where the ship is currently docked, as there are only 57 qualified dentists to treat its population of 22 million.
Speaking on her return, Ailsa said: “A typical day involves working with a local Malagasy interpreter, assessing and treating adults and children – many of whom have travelled many miles – providing around 20 fillings and extracting up to 40 teeth.
“The most memorable moment from my time volunteering with Mercy Ships was when I first saw the dental queue. There were over 400 people waiting to be screened, hoping to be one of the lucky 150 to get a ticket for a dental appointment for the next few days. This process happens every Monday and Thursday.
“Witnessing the level of dental need in Madagascar has been very difficult. Managing young children who need 8 or more extractions under local anaesthetic has been a challenge.
“I have made some lifelong friends on the ship, it’s one of the best things I have ever done. I can’t wait to return– and I think next time round I will bring a few of my friends along.”
Mercy Ships is taking part in the #GivingTuesday campaign taking place on Tuesday 1st December. To support Mercy Ships you can text GTMS15 on 70070 to donate £2. Alternatively please visit our website: https://www.mercyships.org.uk/