Greenpeace International’s retired protest ship Rainbow Warrior II to becomes Friendship’s floating hospital Rongdhonu
The Rongdhonu, formerly known as Rainbow Warrior II will enable Friendship to bring health care to vulnerable and marginalized communities living along the coastal belt of Bangladesh. The floating hospital will provide primary, secondary and emergency health care to those who have little or no access to basic health care facilities. Rainbow Warrior II is a Greenpeace International vessel that has contributed greatly to history, through being an integral part of the organization’s various campaigns, especially against whaling and nuclear testing. It was handed over to Friendship, to be converted into a floating hospital.
Rainbow Warrior has been bombed, impounded, rammed by government ships, raided by police, but loved by millions. She has challenged the legal system and won, she has confronted environmental crimes, relocated the population of a South Pacific Island contaminated by radiation, provided disaster relief to victims of the 2004 Tsunami in South East Asia, and sailed against whaling, war, global warming, and other environmental crimes on every ocean of the world.
Rainbow Warrior II has just completed her last journey for Greenpeace. After 52 years at sea, with 21 years as a Greenpeace campaigning ship, the current Rainbow Warrior is taking on a new role as a hospital ship planned to serve communities living in the coastal areas of Bangladesh.
It would take a few months before the renovation and conversion of the ship into a hospital is complete and it is eligible to sail on coastal belt. The Rongdhonu will be anchored away from the shore and will be accessible to the entire coastal belt and many coastal islands. Satellite Clinics will be set up to provide primary health care services. A boat will be available at all times at the shore and a schedule will be maintained to transport patients to and from the ship. The area where the boats will be waiting will consist of a dispensary and makeshift waiting room (dismantled when the ship moves) for the comfort of the patients.
The Rongdhonu will make primary and secondary health care accessible to people living along the coastal belt of the south, in a manner similar to and from experiences learned from the Lifebuoy Friendship Hospital and Emirates Friendship Hospital. Additionally, it will be prepared to go for emergency health services to the other coastal areas on the Bay, as and when the need arises.
The ship will be equipped with basic primary and secondary health facilities as are on the other two hospital ships of Friendship, which includes eye care, dental care, paediatric care, women health care, investigation services, ward services, etc. Specialized health camps will be organized to provide secondary healthcare through which fifteen different types of surgeries will be made available including eye, dental, reconstructive, paediatric, women health, etc. A number of local and foreign specialized doctors will help in this work. Depending on the weather and water level, the hospital will move to be accessible to selective communities.
Southern Bangladesh is a disaster prone area where cyclones, tidal waves, and tidal surges are common. Climate change has made the situation even worse. The land areas on the Bay of Bengal are crisscrossed by a network of streams that flow around roughly. Frequent storm surges sweep in the Bay of Bengal causing flooding and erosion in the coastline and the islands. Because of its unique geographic location, the south of Bangladesh also suffers from devastating tropical cyclones, after which reaching communities residing in those areas become even harder. These natural disasters devastate the coastal belt, destroying farmable lands, roads, and houses and leaving the local population without assets and means of income. There is minimal road connection, worsened in times of disasters, with the most marginalized living in the most remote places which are surrounded by rivers or huge canals or are water logged.
Friendship has expertise in developing health care models and implementing it in the vulnerable, health hazard zones. Friendship specializes in working with communities at risk in various parts of the country. The organization’s journey started a decade ago with the Lifebuoy Friendship Hospital (LFH), the country’s first floating hospital. In 2008 the Emirates Friendship Hospital (EFH), a second floating hospital was commissioned to serve the healthcare needs of these areas. These 2 vessels provide services in the chars of the Bramhaputra and Jamuna rivers and flood affected areas of Gaibandha and Kurigram districts situated in the northern part of Bangladesh.
The people in the coastal area of the country are isolated from the mainland in terms of physical distance and infrastructure. Non-government organizations and the Government of Bangladesh provide limited health care in these areas because of its remoteness and poor road communication. Outbreaks of diseases are very common due to high population density, a continuous influx of new infectious agents, and low levels of immunization coverage. Accumulation of the aforementioned issues have resulted in an increase in mortality and morbidity rates from diseases and conditions which may be controlled by the most basic of intervention through access to health care facilities. Moreover these areas are highly prone to cyclones and flooding, thus have a need for emergency relief as well.
A handover ceremony of the ship was held on the 16th of August, 2011 in Singapore at 4 PM SGT. The ship will no longer be known as the Rainbow Warrior II and all Greenpeace insignia will be removed. The ship will be refitted by Friendship and renamed Rongdhonu which means rainbow in Bengali.
Rainbow Warrior II has contributed largely to history. We hope Rongdhonu will continue its tradition of passion and commitment by becoming a one of a kind floating hospital delivering dependable and quality service in primary, secondary and emergency healthcare.
Click here to view media coverage of the handing over of the Rainbow Warrior II.
Click here to read the speeches made during the handing over of the Rainbow Warrior II.
For the press release in English and Bangla please find the following attachments
For Bangla: Press Release of Greenpeace International hands over the iconic Rainbow Warrior II to Friendship
To view the historic ceremony live please go to: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/about/ships/.
For more information please see the following links: