Our Vision

Mercy Ships is a faith-based international development organisation that deploys hospital ships to some of the poorest countries in the world, delivering vital, free healthcare to people in desperate need.

Conditions requiring surgical treatment kill more people in low-income countries than HIV/Aids, TB and malaria combined. Globally, five billion people have no access to safe, affordable surgery when they need it.

In sub-Saharan Africa, up to 69% of people live on less than £2 a day. Healthcare in these countries either doesn't exist or is unaffordable to the vast majority of the population.

As well as completing thousands of urgent operations onboard its floating hospital, the Africa Mercy, Mercy Ships volunteers also work closely with host nations to improve the way healthcare is delivered across the country, by training and mentoring local medical staff, and renovating hospitals and clinics.

Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 55 countries, providing services valued at more than £1.3 billion. By improving healthcare delivery in every country it visits, Mercy Ships is working to eradicate the diseases of poverty and effectively do itself out of a job. Mercy Ships follows the model of Jesus by “bringing hope and healing to the forgotten poor”, helping people of all faiths and none.

Among the countries Mercy Ships serves, which lie on the lower third of the World Health Organisation’s Human Development Index, access to safe, affordable and timely surgery is extremely limited. As a result, countless people suffer and die from “diseases of poverty” that can easily be cured.

The Mercy Ships UK Annual Report 2021

Mercy Ships tackles these diseases of poverty through three steps:


Offering direct medical care and surgery to local people;


Training and mentoring local health professionals; and


Improving healthcare infrastructure.

To achieve this, Mercy Ships delivers a customised five-year partnership model with every country it is invited to support. Relationships are built with the national government and ministry of health, so that the needs of each country are met.

In this way, Mercy Ships doesn’t just address the immediate need on the ground, but also works to strengthen the country’s healthcare systems and drive policy change. The aim is to tackle the root causes of the problems rather than just the consequences.