Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

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

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.

Our experience with the 10-Group Robson classification system in Egypt to analyse its high caesarean section rate

Dr Bismeen Jadoon, a Healthcare Researcher and Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, discusses caesarean section rates in Egypt.

Authorship demographics in global surgery, 2016-2020

Dr Krithi Ravi, an Academic Foundation Doctor at the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, shares her latest published work.

What is the extent of global health teaching activities at UK medical schools?

Global health is the study, research, and practice of medicine focused on improving health and achieving health equity, and should be integrated into medical school curricula. InciSioN UK Collaborative set out to evaluate the extent of global health teaching activities at United Kingdom (UK) medical schools.