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Our humanitarian mission in Africa

Mercy Ships deploys hospital ships to low-income countries – improving the quality of life for people living with the multi-dimensional impact of poverty, disfigurement, and disability.

Our volunteers achieve this through direct medical services to individuals in need, and by helping local partners and agencies build their health care system’s capacity to meet immediate and future demands.

Decrease avoidable suffering

Across the globe, 5/7 people lack access to safe and affordable surgery when they need it.

Every day in sub-Saharan Africa, children and adults in some of the poorest communities die from causes that can easily be treated in hospitals in nations like New Zealand. 1 in 8 children will die before they have the chance to go to school.

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Patient Fatou

Increase medical capacity

Mercy Ships creates a lasting impact where healthcare infrastructure is limited or nonexistent, or there’s a critical shortage of trained healthcare providers.

Our volunteers work alongside local partners to strengthen the host nation’s health care systems, in collaboration and in response to expressed local needs.

Training, mentoring, tools and infrastructure are provided to equip local health care professionals before, during and after a hospital ship’s visit, to make timely, safe and affordable care a reality.

Our commitment is to see healing continue long after the hospital ships depart.


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Free surgery

Strengthen nations

Mercy Ships enters a five-year commitment with every country we visit, working closely with each government and ministry of health to deliver real, lasting change where it is needed most.

To help overcome injustice and inequity in health, Mercy Ships assessment provides key health care information often unavailable within the host nation.  Impact evaluation provides data resources for the host nation to build their future health care plan.

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Africa Mercy & Global Mercy side by side

50% of the world's population lives within 160km of the ocean. Hospital ships are a logical, efficient solution to transport state-of-the-art surgical care to countries lacking medics, clean water, electricity, and surgical facilities.

Our medical response


Through corrective and reconstructive maxillofacial surgeries, our surgeons relieve deformities caused by conditions such as enormous benign tumours and cleft lip/cleft palate.

Plastic reconstructive

Accidents, birth defects and illness cause deformities we correct through surgeries, including releasing burn scar contractures, to restore lost movement.


Major reconstructive surgery is provided for children suffering from life-altering musculoskeletal conditions, neglected orthopaedic trauma and joint diseases. Mercy Ships trains local surgeons in Ponseti

Women’s health

Reconstructive surgery, medical care and support is provided for girls and women who have suffered childbirth injuries. The recovery process includes well-being checks, education and

General surgeries

Our surgeons reduce the effects of neglected trauma, disease and congenital conditions by providing general surgeries for conditions such as hernias and goiters.

Eye care

Our ophthalmic surgeons perform free cataract operations, restoring sight to the blind. Additionally, doctors correct pterygium, strabismus and eyelid deformities and replace painful or disfiguring

Oral health

Mercy Ships aims to prevent and reduce the effects of a lack of oral healthcare by providing dental treatment and dental hygiene education and training.

Palliative care

Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the difficulties associated with life-threatening illness.

Mental health

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How we build capacity


We offer training, courses and mentoring for local professionals

Medical courses

Together with local leaders, governments and the national ministries of health, development teams assess healthcare needs in local hospitals and design and implement renovation projects.


Projects to improve hospital facilities e.g. construction or renovation. Mercy Ships partners to install new or improve electricity, water, and sanitation facilities within the host


There can only be good health with a good and balanced nutrition.

Countries our hospital ships have served in Africa

“Five billion people in the world live without access to safe, timely, affordable surgery. Our family is proud to be part of an organisation working to change the global surgery crisis by transforming lives and extending dignity to thousands of people in great need.”