Biomedical technicians – the hidden heroes behind safe surgery

In partnership with African healthcare systems and leaders, Mercy Ships is able to help train and mentor local medical professionals, improving surgical care in the long term. The surgeries performed on board Mercy Ships’ floating hospitals are life-changing for patients and their communities – but when it comes to strengthening healthcare systems, Medical Capacity Building (MCB) programmes are what leave a lasting impact on the healthcare system in the nations served.

 “You can have the best surgeon and the best clinical staff working together, but when the medical equipment is not reliable, your patient is not safe yet,” says Mercy Ships Biomedical Manager Emmanuel Essah. Emmanuel’s team works to upskill and empower local biomedical technicians so that they can confidently keep the equipment at their local hospitals running safely and accurately. Through every training and each hospital visit, Emmanuel is fulfilling his dream: “Sharing my knowledge with my fellow Africans.”

MCB Director Joan Kotze explains, “The biggest lack in the countries we serve is there’s no continuous professional development, so that is one of the key things they are getting out of our training. They’ve done their university degree and then practice, but nobody’s helping them to stay current and stay abreast of the latest things in their area of expertise.”

During the new hospital ship’s first visit to Africa in June 2022, the Global Mercy® crew had the opportunity to be part of this transformative training model. In the port of Dakar, Senegal, the Mercy Ship hosted 302 Senegalese medical professionals on board for a series of 8 courses covering anaesthesia, dentistry, essential surgical skills, neonatal resuscitation, nursing, and sterile processing. More than 4,500 training hours were provided. Many of these courses were the result of collaboration with partners like Optimum Biomedical from the U.K. and the Medical Simulation Skills Institute (MSSI), a Ghanaian NGO.

“We are already applying what we have learned here. It has brought a lot to us. We are realising what we are doing, and we have learned a lot, so a big thank you to the organisation, and I hope many more biomedical technicians will receive the same training, ”  explains Badienne anta Cisse, one of 19 course participants of the Mercy Ships Biomedical Equipment Maintenance Servicing course.

“I really believe in strengthening the healthcare system with the people who are in it already, and coming alongside them, finding they see they need, what their dreams are, and how we can support them to get there,” explained Mercy Ships volunteer MCB Projects Director, Erin Muyres. “The goal is to support making surgery affordable, timely, safe—now and in the future.”

As the organization’s first purpose-built vessel, the ship was designed with MCB in mind – and this was an exciting first opportunity to put its new facilities to use: “We wanted to use the Global Mercy as the training platform it was meant to be,” said Erin.

Providing Hands-on Learning

After five weeks in Dakar, the Global Mercy returned to the Canary Islands to finish outfitting its hospital in preparation to begin providing the first surgeries on board in 2023. Meanwhile in Senegal, Africa Mercy continues the 2022 field service with partnerships that keep growing so that participants can continue to make an impact across the 13 regions of Senegal they serve.

Mercy Ships’ Medical Capacity Building programs work together with Africa to strengthen healthcare systems from within, leading to greater access to safe surgery in the long term. 


 Bio Med training on board Mercy Ships: VIDEO

All hands on deck

Find out about biomedical opportunities on board, and capacity building ashore, from Fiona at the Mercy Ships booth on Trades Night, at the NZIHE 2022 conference

Or visit www.

Mercy Ships Biomedical Manager Emmanuel Essah, instructing a class on anaesthesia equipment.

Badienne, a Senegalese biomedical trainee developing new skills by attending a biomed course on board