Mercy Malaysia to run flying hospitals


Friday January 12, 2007

Mercy Malaysia to run flying hospitals

KUALA LUMPUR: Mercy Malaysia will soon operate flying hospitals.

The aircraft will be made available by Global Flying Hospitals (GFH), an international body that brings humanitarian medical support to developing countries.

A Hercules C-130 is being refurbished for the purpose, and would be ready in three months. Refurbishments to another plane, a Boeing 747, should be completed in eight months’ time.

Mercy and GFH signed yesterday a memorandum of understanding under which GFH would offer Mercy free use of the aircraft without any charge for fuel and crew.

Mercy will be able to create a broader footprint and reach the various regions to meet the needs of people in emergencies and disasters, said GFH founder and chairman Neil Newton.

Our vision is to create a fleet of 10 aircraft and other supplementary aircraft such as helicopters and smaller airplanes, he said, adding that GFH was sourcing for aircraft to build the hospitals.

He said that since a Boeing 747 would take a longer time to refurbish, GFH would in the meantime help Mercy by first offering the Hercules plane which could land on makeshift runways or water areas.

I hear that Malaysia wants to be a developed country but the hallmark of a developed nation is not only about infrastructure, education or commerce, but the will to bring humanitarian work to underdeveloped countries, he said.

Mercy president Datuk Dr Jemilah Mahmood said the partnership was exciting as it provided the organisation with the badly needed logistical support.

Asia is the most disaster-prone area in the world. More than 85% of natural disasters worldwide occur in Asia.

On the floods, Dr Jemilah said since the health department in Johor was doing a good job, Mercy had focused on giving hygiene kits, clean water, blankets and mats, as well as identifying villages for adoption.