Case Study

Intellian’s v240M enables critical medical applications and crew wellbeing for global charity Mercy Ships.

Date
01 September 2020
Location
EMEA - Government
Military and Government - v240M

  • Customer: Mercy Ship UK
  • Market Section: Government
  • Required Features: Enable multiple onboard medical devices & IoT
Intellian’s v240M antenna system enabled hospital ship’s critical and complex onboard medical devices to operate as well as helping a team of volunteers stay connected to the global health care community.

Sometimes, it takes a global event to bring urgent issues to the forefront of the collective consciousness. For many people in the first world, ‘diseases of poverty’ often seemed to be regarded, if they were even considered at all, as an un-relatable, abstract concept. Something that only existed in other countries on the far side of the world. Someone else’s problem. The Coronavirus pandemic changed all of that, delivering a stark and vivid lesson in the vulnerability and interconnectedness of all human life while fostering a newfound appreciation of the staff who toil within a precious and embattled system of free healthcare.

Challenges

  • Limited throughput to operate multiple medical devices when docked in underdeveloped countries that need advanced medical services
  • Limited internet services for volunteers and their families to stay connected during the long deployments, with an at-home like experience, providing crew welfare and education, etc.

According to Global Surgery 2030, 93% of the people living in West and sub-Saharan Africa are deprived of surgical care. In other words, there are two doctors per 10,000 inhabitants, versus 32 in Europe. (Source: World Health Organization). Life expectancy is only 52 years, compared with 74 years in Europe. Mercy Ships aims to help isolated people using their hospital ships. Health professionals provide specialized surgical care to the most underprivileged populations.

Whether or not mankind takes this lesson forward remains to be seen, but a cheering thought is that humanitarian organizations exist which have been delivering free medical care and surgery to the world’s poorest countries for years. One such is Mercy Ships, an international development association founded in 1978 and dedicated to bringing hope and healing to developing countries that fall into the lower third of the World Health Organization’s HDI (Human Development Index). Intellian is proud to be assisting Mercy Ships in this essential work.

Solutions

  • Intellian v240M dual-band antenna solution
  • Intelligent Mediator for multi orbital and multiband on the v240M

Mercy Ships currently operates a modern floating hospital, the Africa Mercy, equipped with an Intellian v240M multi-band VSAT solution operating on the Global Eagle network. Containing five operating rooms and 80 ward beds, the vessel is crewed almost entirely by volunteers, with a primary focus on providing surgery and direct medical care to people from countries in sub-Saharan Africa: Madagascar, Cameroon, Guinea, Senegal, and Benin. Mercy Ships volunteers also offer to mentor and training for local health professionals in the areas they serve while working to reinforce the local healthcare infrastructure.Diagram for Mercy ship

Benefits

  • Enable the possibility to interact with Doctors and Specialists across the world to perform accurate diagnose over the Satellite Link
  • To enable the crew of volunteers to stay connected with their families

Satellite connectivity benefits Mercy Ships in a variety of ways. While the crew can use terrestrial service providers when docked to augment the vessel’s internet bandwidth provision, all phone calls still go via the satellite link, and connectivity is, of course, the key to accessing teleconferencing services over digital channels. This is an indispensable aid in telemedicine, for example, remote training of healthcare personnel, or the sharing of images and doctors’ comments with other specialists around the world who can trade insights to reach a diagnostic consensus.

Mercy Ships will shortly introduce another hospital vessel, this time fitted with dual Intellian v240MT antennas. These have already been dispatched, and once installed and commissioned will operate over the SES satellite network. The new ship will be equipped with a Dual VSAT Mediator which integrates, manages, and controls the two 2.4m antenna systems so as to overcome blockages from the vessel’s superstructure and maintain always-on connectivity.

“Investing in Intellian hardware made long-term financial sense to us because the company’s future-proofed antenna systems already anticipate the changing landscape of satellite connectivity,” says Jonathan Dyson, Director of Enterprise Infrastructure at Mercy Ships. “The v240MT is orbit-agnostic, so this means we’ll be able to make use of MEO and LEO constellations in the future.”

With a crew of around 1,300 volunteers from up to 50 different countries annually, of whom 400 will typically be on board at any given time during a field, the importance of satellite connectivity for medical duties is swiftly followed by that of allowing staff to go online in downtime, whether this is for contacting loved ones, interacting with social media sites or web browsing.

“Crew welfare is a major factor,” Mr. Dyson concurs. “Another aspect of this is that our volunteers pay fees to be on board, so they rely on sponsors and donors to help them. Communicating with these sponsors and donors is critical to make sure that those relationships are upheld.”

Solution Partner: SES 

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