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Sterile service technicians play a vital role in our hospital ships' surgical teams

On board each hospital ship, hundreds of medical volunteers staff the operating theatres, wards and the auxiliary services that provide a complete surgical package – from admission to rehabilitation – for people in living in extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.

We’ve got a Big Ask – but say yes and your courage and compassion will transform lives.  

The health care volunteer experience of a lifetime awaits the brave and compassionate who have a heart for adventure. Mercy Ships needs your CSSD skills to help provide essential surgery for people who otherwise lack access to the treatment they need. Will you join us?

Are you looking for an opportunity to use your professional skills and personal experience to make the world of difference? Volunteering on board may be your next adventure.

Join the health care volunteers from all over the world who are making a life-transforming difference by using their sterile services skills to help serve the marginalised, with Mercy Ships.

If you have the heart to help the vulnerable, then volunteering on board the world’s largest civilian hospital ships in Africa may be the next fabulous career move you make.

Volunteers from around the world provide free, safe surgical care, freeing people from conditions that have been burdening them for years, while training local professionals in our specialties.

The operating theatres, wards and ICU’s on the vessels Africa Mercy and Global Mercy are state-of-the-art. The sterilising equipment and processes are familiar to those working in a New Zealand or OECD health care context.

Sterile Processing Technician role details

Known on board as Operating Room Sterile Processing Technician, this is a volunteer role, as are all other positions.

Minimum volunteer period: 6 weeks

Requirements: Currently registered and active, with 2 years of experience in a hospital or day surgical centre, and in good health

Volunteer opportunities on board

Sterile processing technician

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 6 wks

Processing Team Leader

Preferred Minimum Commitment: 2 Years


Inspection of all instruments for cleanliness, proper function and breakage                                      Assemble and wrap trays, supplies and single-pack instruments for sterilisation                              Sterilise single-pack instruments and surgical trays                                                                                Operate autoclaves safely and correctly                                                                                                      Maintain a clean working environment                                                                                                        Documentation

On the Africa Mercy there are 5 operating theatres supported by 82 ward and ICU beds. On the Global Mercy there are 6 operating theatres supported by 208 ward and ICU beds.

Each hospital ship is self-sufficient, and all the required allied health care services are provided on board eg laboratory, radiology, physiotherapy.

About half of the Africa Mercy‘s 460 crew and the Global Mercy‘s  640 crew fill medical roles.

No, all scrubs and equipment are provided by the ship.
  • All volunteers must be over 18 to join, must be in good health with a BMI <35, and be aware of both the physical demands of living on board and in Africa, as well as any physical demands of the role for which they want to join. For example, our volunteers may be required to sleep in a bunk-bed, sharing a cabin with other volunteers of the same gender.
  • The ship has multiple decks, and crew members could climb about 30 flights of stairs per day.
  • A married person can serve up to three months without their spouse. 


Mercy Ships is an international humanitarian organisation based on Christian values. Our mission is to improve access to health care in low-income nations. 

By deploying the world’s two largest non-governmental hospital ships, the Africa Mercy and the Global Mercy, Mercy Ships works with host countries to help them improve their health care systems.

Each year, more than 1,200 volunteers from over 60 nations donate their time and resources to support the Mercy Ships vision.

Mercy Ships’ surgical specialties include maxillofacialplastic reconstructiveorthopaedic, ophthalmic, general, and gynecological (obstetric fistula) surgery.

Simultaneously, we provide training and mentoring to upskill local health professionals, strengthening the host nation’s health care capacity. 

I love talking to people about finding their fit on board, and I’m here to answer your questions about volunteering.