Created in Switzerland, with an international scope

Founded in 1978, Mercy Ships is a global humanitarian aid organization based on Christian values. Mercy Ships is dedicated to increasing access to healthcare in developing nations.

Through the deployment of the world’s largest civilian hospital ship, the Africa Mercy¸ Mercy Ships offers holistic support to developing nations striving to make healthcare accessible for all.

Over 40 years of experience

In 1978, living in Lausanne, Don and Deyon Stephens began an adventure that led to the founding of Mercy Ships: the couple dreamed of a hospital ship that would reach out to the world’s poorest.

The Anastasis, 30 years of service

This dream came true on July 7, 1978: With a loan from a Swiss bank, Mercy Ships purchased its first ship, the former ocean liner M/V Victoria. After four years of continuous effort, the ship was converted into a hospital ship and renamed Anastasis.

The Africa Mercy, dedicated to Africa

In 2007, Mercy Ships launches the Africa Mercy, the largest hospital ship operated by our organization in its history.

More than 100'000 surgical procedures

In May 2019, a new milestone is reached for the charity: the 100,000th free surgical operation on board one of the organization’s hospital ships, which is then in Guinea. One more operation that transforms the life of a young patient.

On 16 May, little Aissata underwent surgery on board the hospital ship Africa Mercy. She was 7 months old and was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate. Thanks to the intervention of a whole volunteer crew, including skilled surgeons, her lip and palate were closed and treated.

A future-oriented response

Mercy Ships aims to increase its work with partner nations in Africa to help meet this challenge. To this end, Mercy Ships announces the forthcoming launch of a new hospital ship!

The Global Mercy™ will deliver a safe and clean environment to various African nations, providing help and resources from some of the most well-trained physicians in the world. Over the vessel’s 50 year expected lifespan, it is estimated that more than 150,000 lives will be changed on board through surgery alone.

History of Mercy Ships

Our programmes

Mercy Ships increases access to healthcare around the world. Working with qualified local and international partners, Mercy Ships programs offer global support to developing countries, seeking to make healthcare accessible to all.

Medical response

  • Women’s Health
    Support and medical care is provided for women who have suffered childbirth injuries. We provide extremely specialised surgery, continuing the recovery process through education and social activities.
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  • Plastic Reconstructive Surgery
    Birth defects, burns and illness often cause deformities we correct through surgeries; including burn-scar contractures, benign tumours, chronic ulcers, combined fingers and many others.
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  • Palliative care
    Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the difficulties associated with life-threatening illness.
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  • Orthopaedic programme
    Mercy Ships trains local surgeons in Ponseti casting, the “universal standard” in non-invasive clubfoot correction, and provides free surgical intervention for musculoskeletal conditions, neglected orthopaedic trauma and joint diseases. To help maintain correction, Mercy Ships provides physical therapy onboard and also trains local partners in how to manufacture braces.
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  • Ophthalmic care
    Our ophthalmic surgeons perform free cataract operations, restoring sight to the blind. Additionally, doctors correct pterygium, strabismus and eyelid deformities and replace painful or disfiguring blind eyes with prostheses. In addition, Mercy Ships trains local surgeons and healthcare professionals, building the capacity of the national eye care system.
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  • Maxillofacial Surgery
    Through corrective and reconstructive maxillofacial surgeries, our surgeons relieve deformities caused by physical conditions such as tumours, cleft lip, cleft palate and noma.
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  • General Surgery
    Our surgeons reduce the effects of neglected trauma, disease and congenital conditions by providing general surgeries for conditions such as hernias and goiters.
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  • Dental / Oral health
    Mercy Ships aims to prevent and reduce the effects of a lack of oral healthcare by providing dental treatment and dental hygiene education and training.
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  • Training and Capacity Building
    Mercy Ships is working with partners and stakeholders to develop capacity building projects that improve the quality of services across an entire hospital setting, from strengthening technical skills and human capital, to improving working conditions and quality of care.
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  • Medical infrastructure renovations
    Together with local leaders, governments and the national ministries of health, development teams assess healthcare needs in local hospitals and design and implement renovation projects.
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  • Agriculture training – Food for Life
    Mercy Ships has been implementing Food for Life programs since 1997. Food for Life projects have been impacting lives and training people how to produce nutritional food and crops sustainably.
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Support our work!

"From the very beginning, I was excited by the almost far-fetched dream of my friends Don and Deyon that Mercy Ships would grow from an old, disused ocean liner into the organization it is today. I continue to be moved by the commitment of all those who serve by giving their time, money and energy!"

Françoise André – Boardmember of Mercy Ships Switzerland and Vice President of the Mercy Ships International Executive Committee