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Strengthen nations

Increasing access to anaesthesia, obstetric & surgical care

Ground-breaking assessment to strengthen surgical systems in Africa

An estimated 93% of the people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to safe surgery when they need it. Each of those people has a name, a face, and a story.

Little is known about the specific barriers to surgery in each African country, so Mercy Ships worked with African partners to launch a ground-breaking baseline assessment. The study investigates the surgical, obstetric, and anaesthesia systems in 47 African nations, identifying gaps.  Only seven of those countries have a surgical plan – but that will soon change.

The changing face of healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa

Mercy Ships is working with Africa's scientific, health care and government leaders to create a transformational 10-year strategic health care plan to increase access to anaesthesia, obstetric and surgical care.

A critical baseline assessment study was undertaken in 2022 by the scientific community, in partnership with participating countries and other organisations including Mercy Ships, on the state of access to surgical, obstetric and anaesthesia care across the continent.

The study, a first of its kind in Africa, collected data on factors related to the provision, access and operation of surgical, obstetric and anaesthesia health care systems in 28 nations of sub-Saharan Africa, addressing the complex issues and challenges plaguing access for the average person.

An historic roadmap is underway with formation of the Dakar Declaration.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Sarah Kwak explains, “As an organisation we have influence, but it isn’t our responsibility to fix that system.” Mercy Ships is a long-term supporter, adviser, and partner for Africa, acknowledging the ability to change the landscape of surgical care in the continent lies with Africa’s people.

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

Our medical experts share their thoughts

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