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Senior paediatric surgery nurse Gabrielle Dent discusses her time volunteering with Mercy Ships.

Gabrielle Dent with colleagues standing in front of the African Mercy ship.

I have worked for two periods of service as a Nurse on the current hospital ship the Africa Mercy.

The ship is invited by countries, mainly in West Africa, to come for a 10 month period to work with them for transformational change that will last long after the ship has gone. The hospital covers most of Deck 3 and is divided into quadrants containing supplies/services, five operating theatres, recovery, intensive care and 80 ward beds. The crew are volunteers, who provide their own funding and live in a community of 450 persons on board the ship. All surgical intervention and care is given free of charge to those who are treated. This includes maxillo-facial, plastic reconstructive surgeries, obstetric fistula, ophthalmic care, particularly cataracts, orthopaedic correction and surgeries, and dental treatment.

Mercy Ships works with local partners to renovate existing infrastructures and provides new equipment that enhances the care they can give to local people. Most importantly they have Medical Capacity building programmes to improve the local healthcare system by offering training to local medical/nursing professionals. Being part of this amazing team requires ability to work effectively with others in a cross cultural environment, and sensitivity to the languages and cultural diversity of the patients and local Day Crew we work with. With a high turn over of staff along side the core team who are there for the whole field service, I needed to be willing to teach and share my clinical knowledge with new team members.  The minimum commitment for a nurse is 8 weeks, though Alumni can just come for 4 weeks. We work a 40 hour week with additional shifts as needed. It is a privilege to be part of not only providing much needed surgical intervention and the subsequent rehabilitation, but also to see transformational change they hope to leave behind. This includes the mentoring of anaesthetists, surgeons, nurses and other Team Leaders; Biomedical training, WHO Checklist training, Ponsetti Clinic set up, nutritional agriculture, and the goal of making safe  surgery an integral part globally. 

Global Surgery Stories

The ethical impacts of international medical electives on local students and patient care

Magdalena Chmura, a former Student Rep of OUGSG and current Foundation Year doctor shares a paper recently published with Dr Shobhana Nagraj.

Supporting exams and training in Ethiopia

Professor Kokila Lakhoo was recently invited to the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) as an external examiner for the Paediatric Surgery Fellowship Exams. In addition to the exams contribution, Professor Lakhoo and colleagues ran the BAPS HG neonatal skills course and a research seminar for beginners and advance participants. Read the full report below.

Our contribution to the Francophone Africa meeting in Cameroon

Professor Kokila Lakhoo reports on the Francophone Africa meeting in Cameroon from 25 to 30 November 2023, which was represented by 10 central African countries. As well as giving a keynote speech and various talks, Professor Lakhoo and colleagues ran the BAPS HG neonatal skills course, Oxford Global Surgery research seminar and a BAPS-Oxford laparoscopic course.

Children’s Surgical Course for regional hospitals in Tanzania

Professor Kokila Lakhoo reports on her latest visit to Tanzania, the first country in Africa chosen by Oxford University Global Surgery Group to host its new Children's Surgical Course.

Women as a driver to address gaps in the global surgical workforce

Isabella Busa, a medical student at the University of Oxford, shares her recently published article written with Dr Shobhana Nagraj as part of the Global Surgery Special Study Theme.

OUGSG members run OX5 for Oxford Children's Hospital

Two of our Oxford University Global Surgery Group (OUGSG) members, Professor Chris Lavy and Dr Shobhana Nagraj, completed the OX5 Run on Sunday 20 March 2022 for the Children’s Centre at the John Radcliffe Hospital.