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Mercy Ship Arrives in Benin
Date:2/12/2009

h and education suggest improvements over the past decade, nearly 30 per cent of Benin's population lives below the poverty line. Often described as one of the most stable countries in West Africa, Benin is still ranked by the United Nations as the 163rd poorest nation among 177 tracked by the Human Development Index.

According to the ship's hospital manager, Bill Martin, the screenings organized by the nation's Ministry of Health and Ministry of Foreign Affairs are scheduled in the northern provincial capitals of Parakou and Natitingou between February 10th and 15th with the aim of screening between 300-500 North Benin candidates for surgery onboard ship while it is docked in Cotonou as well.

Surgeries to be offered include maxillo-facial, cleft lip and palate, tumors, flesh-eating noma, release of burn contractures, cataracts, obstetric fistula, and orthopaedic issues. Additional patient screenings will be held in the Hall des Artes in Cotonou on February 19th. All surgeries are offered at no charge to patients, thanks in part to the many donors who support the ongoing work of the Mercy Ship.

During the hospital ship's ten-month assignment in port, hundreds of volunteers from around the world will carry out a wide range of other medical and community development services as well, at the invitation of the Ministry of Health.

A dental clinic in Akpakpa will provide up to 20,000 dental care procedures, and vision clinics will begin on February 23rd.

The Mercy Vision project aims to help reduce the number of blind people in Benin, and will treat those with crossed eyes, pterygium, children under 16 born with cataracts, and older people who can see some light. Of the estimated 48,000 Beninese blind, more than half are blind because of cataracts. During previous visits, Mercy Ships volunteer surgeons have provi
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