Mercy Ships: The Power of Connectivity to Deliver Free Healthcare

Mercy Ships: The Power of Connectivity to Deliver Free Healthcare
  • SES delivers connectivity to the largest non-governmental hospital ships in the world operated by Mercy Ships, who deliver free and essential healthcare to people in need
  • SES’s connectivity is vital for Mercy Ship’s daily medical operations, training and remote diagnostics
Carlos Chang, Sales Manager,
Cruise, SES

Upon entering the connectivity cruise industry, I had expected that the connectivity delivered by our satellites would deliver amazing experiences for passengers, boost crew welfare, and enable cruise operators to successfully execute their operations. And it did. What I didn't expect was working with customers like Mercy Ships, operating the world’s largest hospital ships, and behind that playing a significant part in helping to save lives across the globe.

Mercy Ships is a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that operates the largest non-governmental hospital fleet of vessels in the world. They deliver free and life-saving healthcare to people in regions where resources and medical care are scarce.

Reliable satellite connectivity sits at the heart of the charity’s operations, as otherwise Mercy Ships would not be able to carry out its vital service. Through connectivity, remotely located healthcare professionals working at Mercy Ships can treat their patients more effectively. That’s why SES has been so proud to provide its C-band connectivity service to both Mercy Ships vessels – the Global Mercy® and the Africa Mercy™ – since 2021.

Enabling Remote Healthcare with Satellite Connectivity

Each year, Mercy Ships aims to provide more than 5,800 surgical procedures, 18,000 dental procedures and train 3,400 professionals in their area of expertise on its vessels. Connectivity is critical for these vital medical procedures and trainings, as it enables Mercy Ships to transfer data to and from the ships, connect with doctors, surgeons and nurses for consultations, and facilitate their applications.

Since working with Mercy Ships, I have also heard how diagnostics and treatment onboard for its patients have improved significantly. Thanks to seamless connectivity, specialist pathologists sitting miles away can help diagnose complex, life-threatening, or deadly diseases onboard the vessel through remote viewing for a compact digital scope and with a CT scanner.

Connectivity is also essential to ensure that other daily non-medical operations – be that operating the vessel, running diagnostics, executing administrative tasks, or managing supply and operations – run smoothly on the ship. Not to forget, it is also a vital factor to keep 900 crew members connected with their families and loved ones to boost team morale and allow them to stay on board for extended periods.

Recently, the Africa Mercy™ went through an extended refit period where many core and critical services were offline due to upgrades. However, thanks to SES’s, the crew was able to maintain critical communications and prepare for follow-on field service in Madagascar.

High-performance connectivity services at sea can only be delivered by satellites. With over 70 satellites in geostationary orbit and medium earth orbit, SES is capable of providing reliable and secure connectivity worldwide at all times. In particular, SES's GEO satellites have equipped Mercy Ships with reliable global connectivity services at all times which is critical for certain medical procedures.

It makes me incredibly proud that this partnership reflects the positive impact SES’s services have on the delivery of healthcare in regions of the world where medical services are not easily accessible nor affordable. I am humbled to have played a role in supporting Mercy Ships over the past three years and in helping save and improve the lives of thousands of people yearly.