Pope Francis hospital ship arrived in the Archdiocese of Belem on Tuesday, and began to serve rural areas of the Amazon region which are accessible only by river.
At a ceremony for the launch of the vessel, a letter from Pope Francis was read, in which the Pontiff expressed the “great satisfaction” with which he joined those taking part “in this moment of joyful thanksgiving to God.”
He noted that the hospital ship “will bring the Word of God and offer access to better health care to the most needy people” along a stretch of the Amazon extending around one thousand kilometers.
The hospital boat is the initiative of the Fraternity of Saint Francis of Assisi in the Providence of God in partnership with their local diocese and the Brazilian government.
The Brazilian Franciscans were inspired to create the floating hospital when Pope Francis visited their healthcare facility during World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in 2013.
The boat, 32 meters in length, contains an operating room and analysis laboratory, and is able to provide a range of medical services, including X-rays, vaccinations, electrocardiogram, mammograms, and ultrasounds. The hospital began treating its first patients Aug. 18.
It is staffed by 20 medical volunteers, 10 crew members, and a Franciscan boat director for each 10-day voyage.