From #FirstWorldProblems to #WorldProblemsFirst

Is your phone’s Face ID not working because of your face mask? Did your online order come in a day late? Or maybe, is your attempt at a do-it-yourself haircut driving you a little crazy? Then you can join the millions of people on social media using the hashtag: #firstworldproblems. And don’t get us wrong; we know the struggle is real. However, the perspective shift that comes with posting about these minor inconveniences is a great opportunity to ignite a conversation about another challenge: the lack of surgical healthcare in Africa. Through a new Mercy Ships campaign, we invite those who use the hashtag to be agents of change – hence the hashtag #WorldProblemsFirst.

Today there are as many as five billion people who do not have access to safe, affordable surgical and anesthesia services worldwide. This lack of basic healthcare has taken more lives than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and the coronavirus combined. A study by the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery suggests that 93% of people in sub-Saharan Africa cannot obtain basic surgical care. This inequality is the cause of death for 18.6 million people annually.  

This is the landscape Mercy Ships has been working for many years with multiple countries. And this is where we all have an opportunity to make an impact in Africa.

We will pique curiosity and prompt self-reflection by starting conversations with users who share their #firstworldproblems online. While users are showing the world that they are fortunate enough to “complain” about their struggle, we use this the opportunity to change the conversation from first world problems into world problems first, driving attention to the healthcare challenges in Africa.

With igniting the #WorldProblemsFirst conversation, we want to inspire people to identify with the humanity of those whose stories we tell, educate on how to address the healthcare challenges and move to take action.

Together we can work on bringing hope and healing to those who need it the most. You may choose to volunteer your time, donate financially or share the conversation on your social media. All are good and all are needed, but none can happen without an awareness of the issues at hand. If you want to be a part of changing lives, the time to act is now. Use the hashtag #WorldProblemsFirst on social media to help us ignite the conversation and inspire other people. Thank you!

Also: thank you to everyone who has made such a difference in Mercy Ships over the last 40 years. We appreciate all that you’ve done, and we are thrilled to welcome others who are passionate about putting #WorldProblemsFirst.

Learn more about #WorldProblemsFirst >>

Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class healthcare services, capacity building, and sustainable development to those with little access in the developing world. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 55 developing countries, providing services valued at more than £1.2 billion and treating more than 2.7 million direct beneficiaries. Our ships are crewed by volunteers from over 50 nations, with an average of over 1,300 volunteers each year. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, healthcare trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills. With 16 national offices and our Africa Bureau, Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time. For more information click on

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