News Release

US Navy Medical Ship Treats Hundreds in Papua New Guinea

Military and Church combine efforts to help those in need

The military hospital ship, USNS Mercy, docked at Rabual near the village of Rabaon in Papua New Guinea on the 5th of July. 

A military helicopter off loaded 12 pallets of medical supplies and other equipment donated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through its affiliate, LDS Charities.

Those pallets were stored at the Maltec School until they could be delivered to two local hospitals. 

Chris Adam, hospital administer for St. Mary’s – one of the hospitals to receive the supplies – said, “I am really touched by your generosity. Your dedication is very much appreciated.”

Theodore Rau, director of corporate services for Nonga General Hospital, said, “We are looking forward to having this partnership (with the Church) and will store these pallets until they can be delivered to clinics in rural areas.”

The USNS Mercy personnel and volunteers set up a separate clinic to diagnose and treat local Papua New Guineans who came by the hundreds throughout the week.  Nonga and St. Mary’s Vunapope also had volunteer clinics for the week.

Patients with a variety of ailments were treated by volunteer medical, dental and optometry teams from the ship.

While parents and family members waited to be screened and treated, ship personnel played games with the children to keep them entertained.
Some patients received dental, eye evaluation, medical treatment, glasses or prescriptions on site while others were transported to the ship for treatment or surgery. All procedures are free. 

The USNS Mercy is “a floating city” complete with a fully functioning hospital including a cat-scan machine and 6 surgery rooms. 

The medical personnel worked side by side with eight PNG surgeons and 15 surgical nurses to perform 130 surgical procedures aboard the ship while in Bougainville and East New Britain.

They also dispensed a total of 5,604 prescriptions at community health engagements and donated a total of 14,923 units of pharmaceuticals to the local hospitals in these two locations.

There are over 900 military personnel, staff and volunteers on the ship including Army, Navy, Air Force, and Merchant Marines from the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.  

Mike Hughes, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from San Diego, California, is the coordinator for Church distribution of these medical donations.

“This is an opportunity to share with those who don’t have the same economic abilities as we do,” Mr. Hughes said.

“We want to follow the example of Jesus Christ, which is to help our brothers and sisters who are less fortunate.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is involved in humanitarian work in 185 countries around the world.

Read more about the Church’s humanitarian work here.

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