Dr. Austin Demby, Sierra Leone Minister of Health, shares his vision for healthcare in his latest op-ed.

The Global Mercy™, which has been serving in Sierra Leone from August 2023, recently announced the extension of her stay. Following a short maintenance break starting in June, the Global Mercy will return to Freetown in August 2024 to continue providing surgical care and education. Patient registration dates and locations for this field service will be announced in June.
The Africa Mercy® is currently serving in Madagascar from February to December 2024. During the ten-month field service in the Port of Toamasina, Mercy Ships anticipates providing more than 1,000 surgeries on board. In partnership with Madagascar’s Ministry of Health, the crew will also work closely with local healthcare professionals to strengthen the nation’s surgical and anesthetic systems.
The Global Mercy™, which has been serving in Sierra Leone from August 2023, recently announced the extension of her stay. Following a short maintenance break starting in June, the Global Mercy will return to Freetown in August 2024 to continue providing surgical care and education. Patient registration dates and locations for this field service will be announced in June.
The Africa Mercy® is currently serving in Madagascar from February to December 2024. During the ten-month field service in the Port of Toamasina, Mercy Ships anticipates providing more than 1,000 surgeries on board. In partnership with Madagascar’s Ministry of Health, the crew will also work closely with local healthcare professionals to strengthen the nation’s surgical and anesthetic systems.

THIS AFRICA DAY: A BEACON OF HOPE Dr. Fabruce’s dedication to Madagascar

Press Release

Dr. Fabruce Ramaherimamonjy epitomizes the African Union’s theme of this year’s Africa Day: Educate an African fit for the 21st Century. He remains steadfast in his commitment to prioritizing medical education to elevate standards of healthcare for his fellow Malagasies. But it wasn’t always his life plan.

Mercy Ships Welcomes First Patient in Madagascar, Marking a New Era in Africa

Press Release

A baby girl became the first patient to receive free life-changing surgery from Mercy Ships in Madagascar since the international charity returned to the island nation. Ten-month-old Anjara’s surgery marks a significant landmark for the organization which is operating two hospital ships at once in Africa for the first time.

Meet the First Patient to Receive Surgery in Sierra Leone

Celebrating a Year of Lasting Impact

It is estimated that 70% of people around the world lack access to safe surgical care – and that approximately one-third of those are children. This burden is felt especially heavily in sub-Saharan Africa, where nearly half the population is under 18.

A 2021 study that took place in four sub-Saharan African nations found that 60-90% of patients in need of surgery would face “catastrophic” costs if they went through with the operation.

That was true for Sadio, a Senegalese father who could not afford surgery to correct his son Malang’s bowed legs. Even if he had the money, Sadio could not find a surgeon near his home who could perform the operation.

But in 2023, Malang received a free surgery on board the Global Mercy™. The operation that finally straightened his legs was the result of a longstanding partnership between Mercy Ships and Senegal, powered by the passion and skill of African leaders and healthcare professionals, and the dedication of volunteers from all over the world.

Malang’s operation was one of 3,513 Mercy Ships provided during 2023. More than 1,400 of those took place on board the Global Mercy during field services in two ports – Freetown, Sierra Leone; and Dakar, Senegal. From those ports, the ship served patients from three countries – Senegal, The Gambia, and Sierra Leone.

This work was only possible thanks to more than 1,382 skilled volunteers from 71 countries, including 660+ Senegalese, Gambian, and Sierra Leonean national crewmembers.

Beyond those field services, during 2023, Mercy Ships’ work in Africa included:

  • Partnerships with eight countries
  • 3,513 surgeries for 3,136 patients
  • Training in nutritional agriculture for 93 farmers
  • Training for 56 dentists

Programmatic activities extended beyond individual surgeries. Through mentoring and training, Mercy Ships continues to partner with local professionals and governments to build the workforce of skilled surgeons and healthcare workers in those countries.

In 2023, Mercy Ships volunteers provided more than 105,000 hours of training for 1,522 professional healthcare workers.

With a two-ship fleet, Mercy Ships and its host nations can make an even greater impact in 2024 – and that means double the volunteers are needed. The Global Mercy is currently serving in Sierra Leone, and the newly renovated Africa Mercy® is in Madagascar. Find your place on board today.

“…an extraordinary group of people from around the world who exemplify a unique expression of compassion…”

“Mercy Ships has shown great compassion on the Liberian people. I wish to thank all the volunteers on the ship who come from all over the world for their sacrifice and the comfort they have given…”

“I know I speak on the behalf of many, many millions of people when I say thank you very much to all of you for your dedication, for your caring…”

“…an extraordinary group of people from around the world who exemplify a unique expression of compassion…”

“Mercy Ships has shown great compassion on the Liberian people. I wish to thank all the volunteers on the ship who come from all over the world for their sacrifice and the comfort they have given…”

“I know I speak on the behalf of many, many millions of people when I say thank you very much to all of you for your dedication, for your caring…”

We believe that access to surgical care is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.

We believe that access to surgical care
is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Mercy Ships is invited by and works together with governments in Africa to provide safe surgical care and surgical education. Our new ship, the Global Mercy™, is serving in Sierra Leone from August 2023 to June 2024, and again from August 2024 to June 2025. The Africa Mercy® will be in Madagascar from February to December 2024.

Previously, the Global Mercy spent February through July 2023 in Dakar, serving patients from both Senegal and The Gambia from one port. During 2023, the Africa Mercy underwent an extensive refit in Durban, South Africa, to prepare her for many more years of service.

Mercy Ships field services are always conducted at the invitation of the host country’s government. Through a collaborative process, Mercy Ships and the nation’s government reach a five-year agreement that begins before the field service and lasts for years afterward. This long-term partnership includes preparation for the field service, and follow-up support once the ship has left. Once that agreement is finalized, an announcement will be made through Mercy Ships’ social media and online platforms, and by the country’s leadership.

Thank you for your interest in volunteering! Mercy Ships needs volunteer medical professionals, maritime officers and engineers, teachers, administrators, I.T. specialists, accountants, communication professionals, and so much more. Find your place on board! Together, we can bring hope and healing. View open volunteer opportunities with Mercy Ships.

Please note that all volunteers pay for their transportation to and from the ship’s location as well as monthly crew fees, insurance, and all personal expenses. Crew fees vary depending on the length of commitment as well as the volunteer’s country of residence. Volunteers who do not live or have citizenship in countries considered high-income by the World Bank pay lower crew fees.

Click here to see a sample budget, and learn more about crew fees here.

It’s important that volunteers pay their own expenses on board, so that Mercy Ships can maximize the impact of donations by putting 75% directly into programmatic expenses, like the cost of surgery for a patient who needs it.

Mercy Ships is excited to offer financial aid to crew with commitments of 24+ months and for any crew in qualifying maritime roles. Contact a recruiter for more information, and learn more about volunteering here.

Mercy Ships also has a financial support team to answer questions and support volunteers through budgeting, crew fees, and fundraising. If you have any questions as you think through volunteering, or if you’ve already applied – the Financial Support team is available to assist you. Send them an email or check out their fundraising brochure here.

When the ship is in port, Mercy Ships also engages local volunteers from the host nation to help with various roles, including translation, driving, cooking, and cleaning. Recruitment for these “national crew” positions happens locally in the three to four months before the ship arrives. For more information about when a ship may be visiting your country, stay tuned on mercyships.africa.

Mercy Ships will be serving in Sierra Leone (until June 2024, and again beginning in August 2024) and Madagascar (February to December 2024). We can only consider patient referrals in the countries where we are currently serving. Mercy Ships works with the government and Ministry of Health in those host nations to make the population aware of opportunities. If you live in those countries, stay tuned for information from local news and government sources.

Mercy Ships provides:

  • Maxillofacial surgery: Head and neck tumors, cleft lip, cleft palate, ear-nose-throat diseases
  • Pediatric Orthopedic surgery: Club feet, bowed legs, windswept legs, knocked knees
  • Reconstructive Plastic surgery: Severe wound scars, benign tumors, chronic ulcers, burn contractures
  • Women’s health: Vesicovaginal and rectovaginal fistulas, prolapse
  • General surgery: Hernias, goiters, other issues correctible by surgery
    • Pediatric specialized general surgery
  • Eye surgery: Cataracts, pterygium, and strabismus

Learn more about Mercy Ships medical programs here.

We can only take patient referrals in the countries where we are currently serving. Mercy Ships works with the government and Ministry of Health in those host nations to make the population aware of opportunities. If you live in those countries, stay tuned for information from local news and government sources.

Mercy Ships employs a very experienced and well-trained team for patient selection. The selection begins with registration through local evaluators, continues through selection events in major cities throughout each country, and concludes with a final selection process on the ship.

Please do not visit the ship in hopes of receiving surgery. Our crew cannot accommodate unplanned visits, and you will not be able to be seen by a surgeon if you come to the ship. If you have not been able to attend a selection event, there is a referral email address you can write to about your surgical need: patient.referral@mercyships.org.