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BelgiumEuropean Royals

Queen Mathilde visits hospital ship bound for Africa

Queen Mathilde of the Belgians visited a hospital ship as several storm clouds gathered. Her Majesty arrived in the port of Antwerp on Friday morning to take a tour of Global Mercy, a hospital ship. 

The vessel is the biggest floating hospital in the world and is the property of Mercy Ships, a Belgian company founded in 1978 that provides medical aid to the poorest countries in the world with the use of hospital ships and international crews. The Global Mercy will soon leave Belgium for its first international mission and will be bound to Africa to offer free care to the most disadvantaged and education for future medical personnel. 

The ship is equipped with 199 beds, six operating rooms, a lab, scanners, a meeting room for the education of future local staff and a kindergarten for the children of the onboard crew. Queen Mathilde’s visit was made in the context of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, of which the Queen is an Advocate. One of the Goals is to create equal access to medical care around the world by 2030, something Mercy Ships takes to heart. 

This visit also came as the whole of Northern Europe was bracing for the impact of Storm Eunice. The storm generated in Ireland and, with wind speeds up to 125 kilometres per hour, has already killed at least nine people and done damage that has not yet been calculated. Countries in the north of Europe have been placed on a red alert until Saturday morning, including Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.