Global Mercy Begins Local Healthcare Training, Following Historic Week of Events in Dakar

DAKAR, Senegal, June 06, 2022/ In the midst of celebrations around the arrival of the Global Mercy™ to Senegal, training has already begun by the crew of the world’s largest civilian hospital ship, currently docked in Dakar for its first African mission.

This month more than 260 Senegalese healthcare professionals will receive training on board this brand-new hospital ship, through a variety of courses, including surgical skills, SAFE anesthesia, nursing skills, and more.  These first of many training sessions will address topics impacting delivery of safe surgical care.

During the week, Don Stephens, Founder of Mercy Ships, received the Commander of the National Order of the Lion of Senegal. Veteran surgeon Dr. Gary Parker, Africa MercyChief Medical Officer, received the Officer of the National Order of the Lion of Senegal at the Presidential Palace. The Order of the Lion is reserved for only the most distinguished civil or military service.

Ceremonies throughout the past week commemorated more than 30 years of service in Africa and were concluded with a special ceremony of naming and blessing for the Global Mercy, attended by key members of Mercy Ships, governmental dignitaries, and partners including WHO Africa, Johnson & Johnson, and Smile Train.

At the Ceremony of Blessing, Dr. Diop, Secretary General of Senegal, said “It’s my pleasure to be here on behalf of the President to help my country, (which is) facing huge surgical needs as you know. We are very honored and proud to host the Global Mercy for the first time in Africa. Access to surgery is very limited and expensive. On one hand, hospitals are not well equipped. On the other, our medical staff are not well trained. Mercy Ships comes as a gift.”

H.E. President of Senegal Macky Sall awards Mercy Ships Founder Don Stephens with the rank of Commander of the National Order of the Lion of Senegal. The Order of the Lion is reserved for only the most distinguished civil or military service.

Gert van de Weerdhof, Mercy Ships Chief Executive Officer, stated, “This is a holy moment. After many years of planning, preparation, and partnership, the Global Mercy officially becomes part of the Mercy Ships fleet, doubling opportunities for safe and free surgery to take place, transforming lives not only of the patients but their families and communities.”

He went on to say “We aim to provide approximately 5,000 training hours during this first visit of the Global Mercy, incorporating areas of the hospital we could never usually use for training in a field service, creating an impactful experience for our participants. We look forward to returning in 2023 to Dakar to continue our support and see surgical capacity strengthened.”

Last week H.E. President of Senegal Macky Sall inaugurated the world’s largest private floating hospital and committed to accelerate access to surgical, obstetric, and aesthetic care for the nations of Africa. Representatives from Cameroon, the Union of Comoros, Congo Brazzaville, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Senegal gathered on board the Global Mercy to approve a strategic road map to improve surgical care for African nations by 2030, where an estimated 93% of sub-Saharan Africa still lack access to safe surgery.

Global humanitarian organization Mercy Ships and its partners in Africa used this opportunity to come together in an unprecedented and strategic effort to improve access to safer surgery across the continent through a series of milestone events, including the agreement of the Dakar Declaration, a plan to accelerate access to surgical, obstetric, and anesthetic care across Africa, which H.E. President Macky Sall will now take forward to the rest of the African Union.

The new hospital ship, the Global Mercy™, is 174 meters long, 28.6 meters wide and has space for 200 patients, six operating rooms, a laboratory, general outpatient clinics, dental, and eye clinics. The hospital decks cover a total area of 7,000 square meters and contain the latest training facilities. When in full service, the ship will be able to accommodate up to 950 people when docked, including crewmembers and volunteers from all over the world and serve collaboratively with the Africa Mercy, in operation since 2007.

Over the next 50 years of the Global Mercy’s lifespan, it’s expected that more than 150,000 lives will be transformed through surgery alone, with each transformation representing a person with a name, a face, a story, a family, and a purpose. Thousands of African medical professionals will receive training and mentoring with the goal of multiplied impact within their own communities.

Following the four-week training period in Dakar, the ship will complete final equipping in the Canary Islands for the remainder of 2022 and plans to return to Dakar in 2023 for the crew’s first surgical field service. The Africa Mercy will remain in Senegal until the end of the year, continuing to provide surgeries and bringing hope and healing to many.

Recordings of the ceremonies include:


Global health for the last two decades has focused on individual diseases, while surgical care in low-resource countries has not received the attention it needs. Lack of surgical care resulted in almost 17 million deaths annually.

Mercy Ships is an international faith-based organization that operates hospital ships to deliver free, world-class healthcare services, medical capacity building, and health system strengthening to those with little access to safe surgical care. Since 1978, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 55 countries, with the last three decades focused entirely on partnering with African nations. Each year, volunteer professionals from over 60 countries serve on board the world’s two largest non-governmental hospital ships, the Africa Mercy® and the Global Mercy™. Professionals such as surgeons, dentists, nurses, health trainers, cooks, and engineers dedicate their time and skills to the cause. Mercy Ships has offices in 16 countries and an Africa Bureau. For more information, visit and follow us @MercyShips on social media. 

For Information Contact:

Laura Rebouche
U.S. National Media Relations Director
Telephone: 903-939-7137
Email: [email protected]

Diane Rickard
Mercy Ships International Media Relations Manager
Email:  [email protected]

B’roll and hi-res photos can be found at