The Senegalese and Egyptian governments waived the passage fees for the world’s largest charity hospital ship through the Suez Canal, an act that will save thousands of additional lives in Africa.

Global Mercy, the newest hospital ship of international charity Mercy Ships, is on her way to Antwerp where she will be further equipped before she starts her first service in spring 2022.

Part of her journey took her through the Suez Canal on 28 August , a route which usually attracts significant cost for shipping companies, but she was granted free passage.

This unique gesture will enable Mercy Ships, which is funded entirely by charitable donors and volunteers, to provide free surgical care to thousands more people in central and west Africa.

President of Senegal, Macky Sall, praised the work of Mercy Ships, which has been providing surgery free of charge to the world’s poorest for more than 40 years.

He said: “I have seen and experienced with my own eyes that Mercy Ships is a wonderful organisation that brings hope and healing to many African countries. We will welcome the Global Mercy with open arms in the spring of 2022 and give our full support at the start of its first mission in Africa.”

Mercy Ships UK Chief Executive Officer Joanne Balaam expressed tremendous gratitude and support of the nations.

She said: “This generous gesture to acknowledge the charitable work of Mercy Ships and the Global Mercy and exempt it from shipping lane charges will see even more lives transformed with the efforts of volunteers and supporters going even further.”

She added that the ship is in the last leg of the journey to the Port of Antwerp in Belgium where it will be further outfitted and finished from September 2021 to February 2022.

Port of Antwerp made the arrival of the Global Mercy in Antwerp possible by offering a free berth and support.

Volunteers will fully equip the ship as a state-of-the-art hospital as well as supply and crew the ship for its first service in West and Central Africa.