Mercy Ships and Sierra Leone

Thanks to an invitation from President Julius Maada Bio and the government of Sierra Leone, the Global Mercy™ arrived in the Port of Freetown in August 2023 to begin a 10-month field service. Mercy Ships has since been invited to extend the hospital ship’s stay in Sierra Leone to continue bringing life-changing hope and healing in partnership with the Ministry of Health. Following a short maintenance period in June, the Global Mercy will return to Freetown and resume its operations in August 2024. The continuation of its mission will offer free surgeries across various specialties, including maxillofacial, general, pediatric orthopedics, reconstructive plastics, and ophthalmic procedures.

Patient registration, facilitated by Mercy Ships in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, will be conducted on designated dates and locations, to be announced in June. Registration remains free of charge, ensuring equitable access to surgical care for all.

Between August 2023 and June 2024, Mercy Ships provided life-changing surgeries for 1,728 patients on board the Global Mercy, while working closely with national partners to strengthen Sierra Leone’s surgical and anesthetic systems. A total of 174 healthcare professionals came on board the ship for a variety of training opportunities, including surgical residences, OR/Ward Nurse mentoring, and Physiotherapist mentoring. During its extended stay, the Mercy Ships team will continue to work in collaboration with the leadership of Sierra Leone and alongside partners like Connaught Hospital in Freetown, the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons, and the West African College of Surgeons.

“The hospital ship will serve as a platform for training our healthcare professionals to build capacity. Programs will ensure that the positive impact of Mercy Ships will continue long after the ship leaves the shores of Sierra Leone. This partnership will support our vision to ensure a functional national health system delivering efficient, high-quality healthcare services that are accessible, equitable and affordable for all,” said His Excellency, President Julius Maada Bio.

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Western Area Rural

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Port Loko

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Kambia

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Karene

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Bombali

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Koinadugu

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Falaba

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Kono

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Kailahun

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Kenema

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Tonkolili

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Pujehun

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Bonthe

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Moyamba

“This long-lasting partnership paves the way for Mercy Ships to continue to engage closely with the government of Sierra Leone and to strengthen our joint commitment to improving access to safe surgical care,” said Dr. Sandra Lako, Country Director for Mercy Ships in Sierra Leone.

In March 2024, the West African College of Surgeons (WACS) hosted their 64th conference in Freetown, where renowned surgeons and medical experts gathered to discuss how to tangibly accelerate surgical care and education. Mercy Ships was honored to participate in the conference and, together with many partners, celebrate the progress that’s been made and look ahead to advancing surgical excellence and healthcare in the future.

Mercy Ships and Sierra Leone

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1

Western Area Urban

2

Western Area Rural

3

Port Loko

4

Kambia

5

Karene

6

Bombali

7

Koinadugu

8

Falaba

9

Kono

10

Kailahun

11

Kenema

12

Tonkolili

13

Bo

14

Pujehun

15

Bonthe

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Moyamba

Thanks to an invitation from the government of Sierra Leone, Mercy Ships arrived in the Port of Freetown in August 2023 to begin a 10-month field service. This marks the sixth time Mercy Ships has visited Sierra Leone – and the first visit for its newest hospital ship, the Global Mercy™!

During this field service, Mercy Ships anticipates providing more than 2,350 surgeries while also working closely with national partners to strengthen Sierra Leone’s surgical and anesthetic systems. More than 200 healthcare professionals will receive in-depth training and mentorship across areas like nurse anesthesia, biomedical technology, and ophthalmology. The Mercy Ships team works in collaboration with the leadership of Sierra Leone, alongside partners like Connaught Hospital in Freetown, the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons, and the West African College of Surgeons.

“The hospital ship will serve as a platform for training our healthcare professionals to build capacity. Programs will ensure that the positive impact of Mercy Ships will continue long after the ship leaves the shores of Sierra Leone. This partnership will support our vision to ensure a functional national health system delivering efficient, high-quality healthcare services that are accessible, equitable and affordable for all,” said His Excellency, President Julius Maada Bio.

“This long-lasting partnership paves the way for Mercy Ships to continue to engage closely with the government of Sierra Leone and to strengthen our joint commitment to improving access to safe surgical care,” said Dr. Sandra Lako, Country Director for Mercy Ships in Sierra Leone.

Inspiring Excellence: Ophthalmology Training in Sierra Leone 

Mercy Ships serves its partner nations using a doubled-edged approach to bringing hope and healing – providing free and safe surgeries to those in need on board hospital ships, and empowering local healthcare providers with effective training and mentorship leading to better care for the people they serve. Mercy Ships drives the latter through our Education, Training and Advocacy (ETA) program, which involves identifying and understanding the gaps that exist in the health landscape of the country before contributing to the bridging of such gaps using training and advocacy. 

Mercy Ships and Ministry of Health Announce Next Phase of Life-Changing Surgeries in Sierra Leone

Freetown, Sierra Leone – June 18, 2024: The Sierra Leonean Ministry of Health, in collaboration with international charity Mercy Ships, have announced preparations for the upcoming phase of free life-changing surgeries and educational initiatives for the people of Sierra Leone set to begin in August.

Collaborative partnerships boost surgical care needs in West Africa, experts hear

Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – Renowned surgeons and medical experts from across West Africa and beyond met in Freetown, Sierra Leone to propose ways of accelerating access to surgical care and education at the 64th Conference and Scientific Meeting of the West African College of Surgeons (WACS). The week-long event marks a significant milestone in demonstrating West Africa’s medical expertise, offering a platform to exchange ideas and collectively shape the future of surgery and anesthesia while demonstrating the great progress that the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health (MOH) has made with global partnerships.

Transforming Sierra Leone’s Healthcare: A Vision for Safe and Affordable Surgery

As experts from the surgical and healthcare world gather for the 64th Annual Conference and Scientific Meeting of the West African College of Surgeons in Sierra Leone this week, a profound dedication to advancing surgical knowledge and practice in the region is palpable. At the forefront of discussions lies the conference’s pivotal theme: access to safe and affordable surgical and anesthetic care in West Africa. This theme highlights the pressing need to address disparities in healthcare capabilities and capacities across the region, especially the critical importance of equitable access to quality surgical interventions.

Ministry of Health and Mercy Ships Extend Stay of Hospital Ship in Sierra Leone to Provide Life-Changing Surgeries and Education

The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the renowned international charity Mercy Ships, proudly announces the extension of the Global Mercy’s stay in Sierra Leone. This affirms the commitment to addressing the surgical needs of the Sierra Leonean people and advancing healthcare education in the region.

Father is first patient in Sierra Leone to receive life transforming surgery on board Mercy Ship

FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE, SEPTEMBER 13, 2023 – A 43-year-old man who feared he would have to live with a tumor on his face for life was the first patient to receive a life-changing surgery on board the world’s largest civilian hospital ship, the Global Mercy™ yesterday (Sept 12th) in the Port of Freetown, following the ship’s recent arrival.

Father-of-one Emmanuel thought the small lump in his mouth was just toothache or a cold sore when he discovered it four years ago. But it continued to grow bigger on his lower face and medication did not stop it continuing to enlarge.

He had resigned himself to living with the tumor forever but he constantly worried that it would burst and complicate his health.

Passing on the Healing: Hawa’s Story of Life-Saving Surgery

BLOG

There was much excitement on board the Global Mercy™ recently as a young woman named Hawa climbed up the gangway.  Hawa, an aspiring nurse from Sierra Leone, had never set foot on this brand-new hospital ship. But she has walked this swaying path over the water before.  Hawa boarded the first Mercy Ship, the Anastasis, as a small child, when a tumor was slowly encroaching on her ability to eat and breathe. It was there that her life was saved, and a new dream was born. This year, Hawa’s journey to hope and healing came full circle as she reunited with Mercy Ships once more.

Sierra Leoneans Welcome Newest Mercy Ship, the Global Mercy™ into Port of Freetown

FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE, 22 AUGUST 2023 – In response to an invitation from H.E. President Julius Maada Bio, Freetown has welcomed a Mercy Ships hospital ship, marking the sixth instance of the collaboration between Mercy Ships and the government of Sierra Leone. This time it is the Global Mercy™ the world’s largest non-governmental hospital ship, which has docked at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay.  For the next ten months, Mercy Ships’ newest state-of-the-art hospital ship will partner with the Ministry of Health to provide free specialized surgeries to Sierra Leoneans and targeted training for healthcare professionals until June 2024.

Mercy Ships’ programme strategy has been carefully aligned with the country’s current strategic healthcare plan.

Sierra Leone’s Journey for Better Health: Overcoming Obstacles and Embracing Partnerships

For those of us on the ground in Sierra Leone, the challenges we face daily in providing healthcare services underscore the grave disparities present across the various corners of our planet when it comes to our ability, or lack thereof, to heal. In Sierra Leone, the most dramatic example of the challenges we face is the severe lack of qualified professionals equipped to handle our nation’s diverse and growing healthcare needs, particularly in relation to surgical care.

Mercy Ships and Ministry of Health Announce Next Phase of Life-Changing Surgeries in Sierra Leone

Freetown, Sierra Leone – June 18, 2024: The Sierra Leonean Ministry of Health, in collaboration with international charity Mercy Ships, have announced preparations for the upcoming phase of free life-changing surgeries and educational initiatives for the people of Sierra Leone set to begin in August.

Collaborative partnerships boost surgical care needs in West Africa, experts hear

Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – Renowned surgeons and medical experts from across West Africa and beyond met in Freetown, Sierra Leone to propose ways of accelerating access to surgical care and education at the 64th Conference and Scientific Meeting of the West African College of Surgeons (WACS). The week-long event marks a significant milestone in demonstrating West Africa’s medical expertise, offering a platform to exchange ideas and collectively shape the future of surgery and anesthesia while demonstrating the great progress that the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health (MOH) has made with global partnerships.

Transforming Sierra Leone’s Healthcare: A Vision for Safe and Affordable Surgery

As experts from the surgical and healthcare world gather for the 64th Annual Conference and Scientific Meeting of the West African College of Surgeons in Sierra Leone this week, a profound dedication to advancing surgical knowledge and practice in the region is palpable. At the forefront of discussions lies the conference’s pivotal theme: access to safe and affordable surgical and anesthetic care in West Africa. This theme highlights the pressing need to address disparities in healthcare capabilities and capacities across the region, especially the critical importance of equitable access to quality surgical interventions.

Ministry of Health and Mercy Ships Extend Stay of Hospital Ship in Sierra Leone to Provide Life-Changing Surgeries and Education

The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the renowned international charity Mercy Ships, proudly announces the extension of the Global Mercy’s stay in Sierra Leone. This affirms the commitment to addressing the surgical needs of the Sierra Leonean people and advancing healthcare education in the region.

Father is first patient in Sierra Leone to receive life transforming surgery on board Mercy Ship

FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE, SEPTEMBER 13, 2023 – A 43-year-old man who feared he would have to live with a tumor on his face for life was the first patient to receive a life-changing surgery on board the world’s largest civilian hospital ship, the Global Mercy™ yesterday (Sept 12th) in the Port of Freetown, following the ship’s recent arrival.

Father-of-one Emmanuel thought the small lump in his mouth was just toothache or a cold sore when he discovered it four years ago. But it continued to grow bigger on his lower face and medication did not stop it continuing to enlarge.

He had resigned himself to living with the tumor forever but he constantly worried that it would burst and complicate his health.

Passing on the Healing: Hawa’s Story of Life-Saving Surgery

BLOG

There was much excitement on board the Global Mercy™ recently as a young woman named Hawa climbed up the gangway.  Hawa, an aspiring nurse from Sierra Leone, had never set foot on this brand-new hospital ship. But she has walked this swaying path over the water before.  Hawa boarded the first Mercy Ship, the Anastasis, as a small child, when a tumor was slowly encroaching on her ability to eat and breathe. It was there that her life was saved, and a new dream was born. This year, Hawa’s journey to hope and healing came full circle as she reunited with Mercy Ships once more.

Sierra Leoneans Welcome Newest Mercy Ship, the Global Mercy™ into Port of Freetown

FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE, 22 AUGUST 2023 – In response to an invitation from H.E. President Julius Maada Bio, Freetown has welcomed a Mercy Ships hospital ship, marking the sixth instance of the collaboration between Mercy Ships and the government of Sierra Leone. This time it is the Global Mercy™ the world’s largest non-governmental hospital ship, which has docked at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay.  For the next ten months, Mercy Ships’ newest state-of-the-art hospital ship will partner with the Ministry of Health to provide free specialized surgeries to Sierra Leoneans and targeted training for healthcare professionals until June 2024.

Mercy Ships’ programme strategy has been carefully aligned with the country’s current strategic healthcare plan.

Sierra Leone’s Journey for Better Health: Overcoming Obstacles and Embracing Partnerships

For those of us on the ground in Sierra Leone, the challenges we face daily in providing healthcare services underscore the grave disparities present across the various corners of our planet when it comes to our ability, or lack thereof, to heal. In Sierra Leone, the most dramatic example of the challenges we face is the severe lack of qualified professionals equipped to handle our nation’s diverse and growing healthcare needs, particularly in relation to surgical care.

Transforming Sierra Leone’s Healthcare: A Vision for Safe and Affordable Surgery

As experts from the surgical and healthcare world gather for the 64th Annual Conference and Scientific Meeting of the West African College of Surgeons in Sierra Leone this week, a profound dedication to advancing surgical knowledge and practice in the region is palpable. At the forefront of discussions lies the conference’s pivotal theme: access to safe and affordable surgical and anesthetic care in West Africa. This theme highlights the pressing need to address disparities in healthcare capabilities and capacities across the region, especially the critical importance of equitable access to quality surgical interventions.

Ministry of Health and Mercy Ships Extend Stay of Hospital Ship in Sierra Leone to Provide Life-Changing Surgeries and Education 

The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the renowned international charity Mercy Ships, proudly announces the extension of the Global Mercy’s stay in Sierra Leone. This affirms the commitment to addressing the surgical needs of the Sierra Leonean people and advancing healthcare education in the region.

Father is first patient in Sierra Leone to receive life transforming surgery on board Mercy Ship

FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE, SEPTEMBER 13, 2023 – A 43-year-old man who feared he would have to live with a tumor on his face for life was the first patient to receive a life-changing surgery on board the world’s largest civilian hospital ship, the Global Mercy™ yesterday (Sept 12th) in the Port of Freetown, following the ship’s recent arrival.

Father-of-one Emmanuel thought the small lump in his mouth was just toothache or a cold sore when he discovered it four years ago. But it continued to grow bigger on his lower face and medication did not stop it continuing to enlarge.

He had resigned himself to living with the tumor forever but he constantly worried that it would burst and complicate his health.

Passing on the Healing: Hawa’s Story of Life-Saving Surgery

BLOG

There was much excitement on board the Global Mercy™ recently as a young woman named Hawa climbed up the gangway.  Hawa, an aspiring nurse from Sierra Leone, had never set foot on this brand-new hospital ship. But she has walked this swaying path over the water before.  Hawa boarded the first Mercy Ship, the Anastasis, as a small child, when a tumor was slowly encroaching on her ability to eat and breathe. It was there that her life was saved, and a new dream was born. This year, Hawa’s journey to hope and healing came full circle as she reunited with Mercy Ships once more.

Sierra Leoneans Welcome Newest Mercy Ship, the Global Mercy™ into Port of Freetown

FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE, 22 AUGUST 2023 – In response to an invitation from H.E. President Julius Maada Bio, Freetown has welcomed a Mercy Ships hospital ship, marking the sixth instance of the collaboration between Mercy Ships and the government of Sierra Leone. This time it is the Global Mercy™ the world’s largest non-governmental hospital ship, which has docked at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay.  For the next ten months, Mercy Ships’ newest state-of-the-art hospital ship will partner with the Ministry of Health to provide free specialized surgeries to Sierra Leoneans and targeted training for healthcare professionals until June 2024.

Mercy Ships’ programme strategy has been carefully aligned with the country’s current strategic healthcare plan.

Sierra Leone’s Journey for Better Health: Overcoming Obstacles and Embracing Partnerships

For those of us on the ground in Sierra Leone, the challenges we face daily in providing healthcare services underscore the grave disparities present across the various corners of our planet when it comes to our ability, or lack thereof, to heal. In Sierra Leone, the most dramatic example of the challenges we face is the severe lack of qualified professionals equipped to handle our nation’s diverse and growing healthcare needs, particularly in relation to surgical care.

Sierra Leone

We are very excited to return to lovely Sierra Leone in 2023!

Mercy Ships is a global charity that uses hospital ships to bring hope and healing to nations as they build up their own stronger healthcare systems.

The volunteer professionals of Mercy Ships have been honored to partner with Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health in the past by offering immediate surgical intervention on board the Africa Mercy and sharing training and resources to build Sierra Leone’s own capacity. We look forward to continuing this partnership with the visit of the Global Mercy.

All of Mercy Ships services are offered in Sierra Leone at no cost.

  • Population

    8,342,084 people live in Sierra Leone.

  • Healthcare

    .07 Physicians per 1000 people. In 2006 stats showed that per 1000 people, .4 hospital beds were available.

  • Previous Care

    Mercy Ships provided free surgeries to over 3,000 people during our last visit in 2011.

Who We Are

Founded in 1978, Mercy Ships is a global faith-based charity that uses hospital ships and volunteer professionals to deliver free specialized surgical care and medical training to build the local healthcare systems with our host nations, focusing in Africa.

Medical Training

Mercy Ships offers free training designed to empower healthcare workers and strengthen local healthcare systems. Instruction is specific to the unique needs of our host nation and planned in collaboration with the National Ministry of Health.

How We Help

Mercy Ships comes alongside our host nation with volunteer professionals to address the immediate surgical needs of a nation, simultaneously training local healthcare workers, and collaboratively building healthcare infrastructure. This approach empowers our host’s sustainable progress and continued development.

Who We Are

Founded in 1978, Mercy Ships is a global faith-based charity that uses hospital ships and volunteer professionals to deliver free specialized surgical care and medical training to build the local healthcare systems with our host nations, focusing in Africa.

Medical Training

Mercy Ships offers free training designed to empower healthcare workers and strengthen local healthcare systems. Instruction is specific to the unique needs of our host nation and planned in collaboration with the National Ministry of Health.

How We Help

Mercy Ships comes alongside our host nation with volunteer professionals to address the immediate surgical needs of a nation, simultaneously training local healthcare workers, and collaboratively building healthcare infrastructure. This approach empowers our host’s sustainable progress and continued development.

  • Phase 1

     

    Awareness

    In collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Action, Mercy Ships will raise awareness in district health posts, health centers and regional hospitals.

  • Phase 2

    Call to Register

    Potential patients should be directed to the regional Hope Centers for registration during the registration week in their region.

     

    Phase 2

  • Phase 3

     

    Registration

    People who are recognised as potential patients can be registered in one of the registration clinics or through our online form.

  • Phase 4

    Consultation

    Mercy Ships their Patient Selection Team will visit regional hope centers to assess the registered patients.

     

    Phase 4

  • Phase 5

     

    Ship Visit

    Selected patients are invited to come to Monrovia for a secondary examination by a Mercy Ships surgeon.

  • Phase 6

    Surgery

    Once the Mercy Ships surgeon has seen the patient, he or she will be scheduled for surgery. Once the surgery and follow-up care is completed, the patient will be able to return to their home.

     

    Phase 6

FAQs

The Africa Mercy will be arriving in the middle of August 2020 and will stay for a 10 month field service.

Registration will begin several months before the arrival of the ship and will be communicated locally and on this website.

We will be needing many people to help as translators, extra hands, and partners during this time. There is much more information on this page about this.

Ask Us Anything

We are excited to share our story with you. We believe that a successful collaboration is based on mutual trust. By being transparent with local media and organizations and inviting them to learn more about our mission, we hope to build strong partnerships that will help us achieve our goals.

For this purpose, we have selected for you the most important facts and figures about Mercy Ships.

If you have any questions, please contact us using this form. Our team will get back to you as soon as possible.

 Get in Touch

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Please be aware, we’re not taking any referrals through this form. Referrals through messages or email will not be received. Any other message we will try to respond to ASAP.

Ask Us Anything

We are excited to share our story with you. We believe that a successful collaboration is based on mutual trust. By being transparent with local media and organizations and inviting them to learn more about our mission, we hope to build strong partnerships that will help us achieve our goals.

For this purpose, we have selected for you the most important facts and figures about Mercy Ships.

If you have any questions, please contact us using this form. Our team will get back to you as soon as possible.

 Get in Touch

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Please be aware, we’re not taking any referrals through this form. Referrals through messages or email will not be received. Any other message we will try to respond to ASAP.

We’d Love to Hear from You

Join us as we seek to change access to safe surgical, obstetric and anaesthetic care across Africa.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Please be aware, we’re not taking any referrals through this form. Referrals through messages or email will not be received. Any other message we will try to respond to ASAP.