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Lord McColl to speak on behalf of Mercy Ships

Lord McColl to speak on behalf of Mercy Ships New Zealand


TAURANGA, 22 August 2005: UK Parliamentarian, The Lord McColl of Dulwich arrives in New Zealand at the end of this month, not visiting as part of the upcoming elections or as part of a Commonwealth Parliamentary Delegation tour to New Zealand like last year, but to speak on behalf of the work of Mercy Ships internationally from 28 August – 3 September. The public are invited to hear speak in the cities of Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch prior to his involvement with the Commonwealth Parliamentary delegation in Fiji and Papua New Guinea. Lord McColl, retired Professor of Surgery at Guy’s Hospital in London, currently serves as Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee of the International Board of Mercy Ships International. He is also Chairman of the UK Board of Trustees for Mercy Ships United Kingdom. Since 1991 he and Lady McColl, also a doctor, have regularly volunteered their surgical expertise serving with Mercy Ships while working among the extreme poor in West Africa.

Historically, Mercy Ships has numerous ties to New Zealand. Since the 1983 visit of the Mercy Ship Anastasis to New Zealand’s major ports, during which relief supplies were gathered for hurricane stricken South Pacific islands, New Zealanders have filled many key roles with the hospital ships. The current Mercy Ships office in New Zealand has facilitated this effort since 2001.

Most recently the McColl’s partnership with Mercy Ships took them to post-war Liberia where they were involved with assisting women rendered incontinent by obstructed childbirth – a condition that has been eradicated in the Western world due to basic obstetric care. “Some figures suggest that 50,000 to 100,000 women develop fistulas each year,” said Lord McColl. “As we train more local doctors and work with hospitals and officials to raise basic levels of health care, increasing numbers of women will have some kind of hope, where previously they had none.”

In 2003, Lord McColl together with Stagecoach director Ann Gloag, received the Great Scot Award for humanitarian service with the charity. Both of them serve as spokespersons for the Africa Mercy, the newest vessel in the Mercy Ships fleet, due to launch from the UK in April, 2006. The Africa Mercy will be the world’s largest non-governmental hospital ship.

This year alone, more than 1500 West African patients will receive a free specialized surgery and more than 7000 dental patients will receive health care onboard a Mercy Ship. Medical professionals from all over the globe donate their time to perform life-transforming operations from removing tumours to repairing cleft lip and palates, Vesico-vaginal fistulas, cataracts and severe burns. In West African villages, health care education is offered with skills training and community development projects. Volunteer cooks, mariners, IT specialists, medical staff and other volunteers pay crew fees to serve the poor.

Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships is the leader in using hospital ships to deliver free world-class health care services to the poor. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, the global charity brings hope and healing to the poor in developing nations. Each year more than 2400 career and short-term volunteers serve with Mercy Ships. With three hospital ships and offices in 17 countries, Mercy Ships has visited more than 500 ports in over 50 developing nations.

Over the past 27 years, Mercy Ships has performed more than 2 million services, with a value of $250 million US and impacted over 2.5 million lives.

Mercy Ships has a goal to serve one million people per year.

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