In the South Pacific, there are no roads, power lines, or phone systems to connect the smaller, less populated, islands to the same services offered on the more populated, primary islands. Sadly, these remote islands are left without even the most basic of health care services. But a new non-profit organization called Sea Mercy is striving to meet those needs and they are seeking adventurous sailboat owners to join them in the South Pacific.
Having sailed in the South Pacific, Richard and Stephanie Hackett witnessed both the incredible beauty and hardships faced by those living on the remote islands. Seeing the need, they began reaching out to the island nations to learn more about the health care initiatives they had for their remote island citizens. "That was when we learned the reality of the situation for the remote citizens," said Richard Hackett, Founder of Sea Mercy. "Although the islands nations were striving to build a modern health care infrastructure on their larger, more populated, primary islands, there was no service delivery mechanism in place, or funds available to try and connect their remote islands to even the most basic of health care services. That is when we decided to find a solution."
Working directly with the island nation's health ministry leaders, in 2012, Hackett and his wife launched the non-profit 501(c)3 organization named Sea Mercy (www.seamercy.org)
As an FHCC for a specific island nation, you will carry a small contingent of doctors, dentists, optometrist, nurses, dental assistants, and pharmacy technicians and the necessary supplies to the remote islands in order to deliver the care, medicines and services needed. This will be done on 2 week rotations between resupply, with program commitments of 3-6 months. Working with Sea Mercy and the island nation partner, as the FHCC you will focus on helping the volunteer staff to fulfill the following health care needs:
● Preventive - Providing immunizations, examinations, and evaluations.
● Curative - Providing treatments, minor surgeries, and limited pharmaceutical care.
● Promotional - Health education and training of local citizens on better health practices and there by reduce health care needs.
● Rehabilitative - Helping islanders return to a productive life through corrective treatment of physical ailments and impairments.
Here is how the program works, owner submits their vessel and credentials to Sea Mercy for review through the online form, selecting island nation region(s) they are willing to operate in, desired length and specific months of service, and the monthly usage cost/lease charge for their vessel to operate as a FHCC. Sea Mercy performs a vessel and background check and based on the above criteria, Sea Mercy selects a vessel to operate a FHCC in that island nation.
The Kingdom of Tonga, located approximately 500 miles east of Fiji, will be the first island nation to receive a Sea Mercy FHCC. Tonga has over 176 islands spread across 270,000 square miles of ocean, 160 of those islands are located 100 to 500 miles north of the primary island of Tongatapu where the primary hospital and the majority of their health care staff are located. "Tonga is a good example of our more remote islands being neglected with more focus of donor aid on the main referral hospitals," said Dr. Latu Tekiteki, Medical Officer in Charge of Community Health Services, Ministry of Health in Tonga. "Also with the small populations on each island, it is not feasible to put medical officers there… One island caters for a scattering of smaller islands who have to take the boat to the closest Health Centre, from there it is usually 3-5 hours away from the secondary Hospital in that island group depending on weather and if there is even a boat available to take them there."
The great distance between the primary island group in the south and the remote island groups in the north creates an incredibly challenging situation for medical personnel to deliver primary health care services to the remote islands and equally challenging for those whom live there to receive treatment in times of emergency. Based in Tongatapu, Sea Mercy's FHCC and volunteer staff will make regular visits to Tonga's remote island citizens, "standing in the gap" as long as needed, or as long as there is available support for the Sea Mercy operations. The South Pacific is calling and Sea Mercy is asking captains and owners for your help in answering that call.
For more information about this topic or to schedule an interview with Richard Hackett, please email Sea Mercy at firstname.lastname@example.org.