Monday 18 June 2018: The Surgery Ship, an eight-part documentary series on National Geographic, airs this week in two, four-hour back-to-back episodes with the first four on Thursday 21 June and the second set on 28 June at 1.30pm AEST.

The series highlights the amazing work of the hospital ship charity Mercy Ships and gives an up-close and personal portrayal of issues around the global need for access to essential surgery.

The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery estimates that five billion people – five out of every seven human beings – lack access to safe, affordable surgical and anaesthesia care when they need it.

The commission states that there are currently gross disparities in access to safe, essential surgical care worldwide, and an alarming lack of global focus on widespread provision of quality surgical services. (1)

Lack of access to treatment or simple surgical solutions often leads to complications, lifelong disability or death.

Greater access to surgical care could avert 17 million deaths a year according to Alan Burrell, Managing Director of Mercy Ships Australia.

“To really make a difference in people’s lives, and to give developing nations the tools they need to reduce poverty, high quality surgical care must be included as a central tenet of universal health coverage,” states Mercy Ships volunteer surgeon Mark Shrime.

Every year, Mercy Ships medical volunteers perform thousands of surgeries on board the world’s largest charity hospital ship, the Africa Mercy, which docks in ports along the coast of Africa.

In the past 40 years, Mercy Ships have had more than 2.6 million direct beneficiaries, as thousands of compassionate volunteers help by providing free life-changing surgeries onboard a Mercy Ship.

Additionally, local surgeons, nurses and other local health workers are upskilled at the same time, gaining transferable techniques that they can use immediately within their own local settings after the ship leaves port.

“Investing in surgical services is an incredible way to save lives and encourage economic growth in the developing world,” states Alan Burrell, Director Mercy Ships Australia.

“You can impact this crisis by now by donating to Mercy Ships. If you give before the end of the tax your gift will have double the impact thanks to a donor who is matching all donations made before June 30th.”


About Mercy Ships

Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class health care services, capacity building and sustainable development aid to those without access in the developing world. Founded in 1978, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $1.3 billion, with more than 2.56 million direct beneficiaries. Each year, more than 1,200 volunteers from over 40 nations serve with Mercy Ships. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, health care trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort. Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time. Mercy Ships Australia, one of 16 international support offices, is based on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. For more information, visit  or watch here:

For further information, please contact:

Melissa Mason
National Office Manager
Mercy Ships Australia
(07) 5437 2992
[email protected]

High resolution photos are available upon request, with attribution to Mercy Ships.