Canadian Program Education, Training and Advocacy

Improving the Quality of Medical Care in Africa

Mercy Ships has a mission to increase access to healthcare in Sub-Saharan Africa through the deployment of private hospital ships, the Africa Mercy and the Global Mercy.

Mercy Ships works with host nations to strengthen the local healthcare system, while serving the dire and immediate needs of the host country. Mercy Ships provides a variety of training opportunities for medical professionals (surgery, surgery nursing, sterile processing and more), along with curative surgical interventions. Collaborating with qualified local and international partners, Mercy Ships programs offer holistic support to developing countries striving to make healthcare accessible for all.

Location and Need

According to the Lancet Commission for Global Surgery, 5 billion people do not have access to safe, affordable surgical and anesthesia care. In 2010, 16.9 million lives were lost due to surgically treatable conditions. Those living in low and middle income countries, and in particular, Africa, disproportionately experience this need more than wealthier nations. In Africa, there are far less than the 23 physicians and 100 nurses/midwives for every 100,000 people required as a minimum development goal (Source: World Health Organization). However, simply increasing the number of surgeries is not sufficient; enhancing quality of care is critical as well. Training professionals to administer patient-centered services, using simple techniques and processes that save lives is essential to meeting the goal of improved surgical care.

Alignment with Existing Health Development Plans

Many countries and development organizations create their own strategies to improve the healthcare system. Mercy Ships seeks to collaborate and align programmatic activities with these existing efforts. As a result, Mercy Ships becomes part of a broader approach for systemic development.

Strategic Hospital Development

On the national level, Mercy Ships focuses this approach on particular medical facilities located in the partner country. As a hospital ship that provides a model example of a Western/African hospital, the organization is well suited to help boost the capacity at strategic local facilities. Mercy Ships collaborates with the government and other partners to identify which hospitals have the greatest need, will benefit from development efforts and align with existing strategic plans for health system improvement. By focusing on strategic medical facilities, the organization is able to concentrate and coordinate capacity-building efforts during the country engagement.

Transformational Training

Mercy Ships healthcare training programs aim to enhance the standards of care within the surgical ecosystem in partner hospitals or other healthcare institutions. With this objective in mind, the organization has developed practical and relevant healthcare training projects that demonstrate and impart knowledge, skills, and a compassionate, professional attitude to each participant. These training opportunities include structured observation, courses, and mentoring.

Structured observation sessions allow local healthcare professionals to experience a high quality, patient-oriented hospital with the hope they will be inspired by the high standards of care observed. Courses teach specific skills and information on improving standards of care and personal medical practice. Mercy Ships courses utilize a combination of lectures, simulations, and workshops, often in partnership with other internationally renowned organizations. Mentoring projects encourage a personal relationship and trust between the project facilitator and participant, leading to targeted, in-depth clinical teaching for individuals. When possible, Mercy Ships offers a combination of mentoring and courses to various healthcare workers in a particular hospital or specialty unit (for example maxillofacial surgeon, anesthesia provider, OR and ward nurses), creating a Partnership Unit Mentoring Program (PUMP). PUMPs encourage even greater degrees of teamwork, communication and attention to process measures, which improve standards of care and patient safety.

Training in healthcare facilities and hospitals improves the safety and quality of treatments. © Mercy Ships
In the operating room on the Africa Mercy, local surgeons often operate alongside our volunteer professionals. © Mercy Ships
Through mentoring in hospitals and on our hospital ship, physicians and nurses can expand their knowledge and skills. © Mercy Ships
Discussions and practical sessions are part of the medical education program. © Mercy Ships
Local medical technicians, for example, are also trained in the repair and maintenance of medical equipment. © Mercy Ships


Medical Care

Hope Medical Centre

The project will provide equipment for the Hope Medical Centre in Guinea so they can continue to provide care to the local population, enhance their current services and improve their administrative support system with equipment and technology.

Medical partnership

Gamal Medical Simulation Lab

This project aims to support the equipping of a medical simulation space located at the Gamal Abdel Nasser University of Conakry in Guinea. Mercy Ships will purchase and ship the equipment directly to Gamal Abdel Nasser University of Conakry (UGANC) in Guinea.

doctor or nurse

Nurse Anesthesia

Gamal University’s teaching program for nurse anesthesia students by providing supplies and materials and instructor’s credentials are enhanced.

Surgery tool

Sterile Processing

Preventing surgical infection through sterile processing training. We seek to improve sterile processing practices in the countries Mercy Ships serves.