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Charity's floating hospital reaches Africa

A SCOTTISH charity is about to embark on the second stage of an ambitious plan to convert a ship into a floating hospital and transport it to Lake Victoria in Tanzania.

The Vine Trust's vessel Jubilee Hope is due to arrive off the coast of West Africa today, where it will be broken down and transported more than 500 miles over land.

The scheme is the third time the trust, based in Bo'ness, has sent hospital ships to foreign waters, and follows the success of projects in Peru.

But this is the first time it has tried to sail a ship to Africa, or transport one over land.

Willie McPherson, chairman of the Vine Trust, said: "We have sent two ships to Peru that between them have helped treat one million people. We felt that as a charity we had now grown, and the next stage is to replicate the success we have had in Peru in another country, and that country is going to be Tanzania."

"We asked ourselves, 'could we take one of these ships and movie it 520 miles overland across Africa to lake Victoria?'. Then we thought 'they put a man on the moon, so we can surely do this'."

The ship is a former Royal Navy fleet tender that was refitted at a cost of £1 million by BAE systems at its yard in Greenock.

It has sailed for more than 8000 miles from the Clyde to Mombassa, in Kenya, and will now be transported with the help of Aberdeen oil company the Wood Group, which operates in Africa and has donated technical know-how to move the boat.

The Jubilee Hope is fitted with examinations rooms, a dentist's surgery and a laboratory will provide basic medical care to thousands of people living in and around the dozens of communities in Lake Victoria.

It will be staffed by a core team of Tanzanians, including three doctors, and also volunteers from the charity.

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Health

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