About Mercy Ships

Mercy Ships began its mission to provide hope and healing to those in need in 1978 by providing life-changing surgeries and medical training free of charge, often using hospital ships filled with volunteer professionals. Together, we are saving lives.

An enormous challenge

A large majority of the world’s population does not have the benefit of a nearby hospital or lack the financial means to seek treatment. According to a recent study, 5 billion people do not have sufficient access to essential surgery.

Mercy Ships collaborates with governments and the World Health Organization to help respond to this challenge.

Volunteer and patient in front of our ship

Our answer: hospital ships

More than 40% of the world’s population lives within 100 miles of the coast. Our ships deliver state-of-the-art hospitals to port cities, providing a controlled, safe, and clean environment for patients and volunteers.

Urgent needs and lasting impact

Mercy Ships is centered on two priorities:

First, serving the dire and immediate surgical needs of our partner nations. Second, working with these nations to help fill the gaps in healthcare systems.

Since 1978, Mercy Ships has performed more than 105,500 surgeries and provided specialized mentoring and training opportunities for more than 49,000 professionals.

History of Mercy Ships

Watch the video below to discover the story behind Mercy Ships. 

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Help double the impact in Africa. Choose any Mercy Ships office around the world to make a donation.

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Mercy Ships medical response:
Free, lifesaving, and transformative safe surgery

Eye care

Mercy Ships addresses surgical eye needs in places with widespread preventable blindness.

General surgeries

Mercy Ships provides free corrective surgeries for many conditions children and adults suffer from globally.


Mercy Ships works to heal cleft conditions and facial tumors where specialized surgery doesn’t exist.

Mental health

Those suffering mental illness are often marginalized by their communities. Mercy Ships is there to help.

Oral health

More than filling cavities, Mercy Ships works in communities to teach basic oral health education that changes lives.


Mercy Ships heals clubfeet and twisted limbs to help relieve the suffering of people who before had little to no access to surgery.

Palliative care

Mercy Ships follows the model of Jesus by tenderly caring for terminal patients and grieving families.

Plastic reconstructive

The plastic surgery team provides relief from painful disfigurements through specialized surgical interventions.

Women’s health

Mercy Ships cares about the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of women’s health issues and treatment.

Medical capacity building


Mercy Ships provides mentoring programs for surgeons, anesthesia providers, ward nurses, operating nurses, and biomedical technicians.

Medical courses

Medical courses train local healthcare professionals in essential surgical skills, primary trauma care, SAFE obstetrics and pediatrics, and WHO checklist training.

Infrastructure & Renovations

Mercy Ships provides the HOPE center, dental clinic, and eye clinic while in port as well as completing local medical infrastructure renovations.