Mercy Ships

Year established 2009
Sectors NHS
Country Sierra Leone

Overall goals

Providing free surgery to those without hope of paying for treatment. Specialities covered are Maxillo-facial surgery, orthopaedics, ophthalmology, dentistry, obstetric fistula surgery and general surgery.

Key UK Colleagues and Partners

NHS Fife, Mercy Ships.

International Partners


Sustainable development goals

  • SDG 3 - Good health and well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender equality
  • SDG 8 - Decent work and economic growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced inequalities

Funding source

Self funded

Project origin

Heard about them from a colleague.

Evidence of need

The countries Mercy Ships works in are some of the poorest in the world and patients with deforming conditions receive no free healthcare and are usually too poor to pay for it. Also the operations they need are usual not available in their countries.

Project areas


Project activities

5 weeks in Sierra Leone at their fistula clinic and training of local anaesthetic assistants.

Continuing presence in West Africa treating complex surgical patients. The ship goes to one country for 9 months so that they can do complex surgery that many need several different operations.  They then usually return to the same country a few years later and are able to do a small amount of follow up for the patients.  I personally treated many young patients with huge facial tumours which would eventually have led to their deaths from starvation or suffocation.


Changes to individual patients’ lives and building more sustainable services in those countries (the organisation usually does health education and sometimes builds clinics while the ship is in a particular country).

Next steps

Plans to work in Guinea on the ship next year.



Mitigating challenges

Had to take annual leave when it is really very hard work and I felt that it would be good if the hospital would allow special leave or at least perhaps work out cover for my lists while I am away as a contribution to the charity work I feel that I need my holidays and that the NHS should support this work by allowing some time for professionals to do it without always taking annual leave.

Project gains

  • leadership
  • teamwork
  • clinical
  • awareness
  • academic
  • patient
  • resilience
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