Shrewsbury doctor in mercy trip to Africa on floating hospital

By Lucy Todman | Shrewsbury | News | Published: | Last Updated:

A doctor from Shrewsbury will be travelling to Africa this autumn to work alongside medics from other countries on a Mercy Ship floating hospital.

Dr Felicity Avann

In October and November, Dr Felicity Avann will be volunteering on the largest non-governmental hospital ship called the African Mercy with a charity called Mercy Ships. She will be living and working on the ship, which will be in Dakar, Senegal.

The floating hospital is staffed entirely by volunteers from over 40 different nations who work in a variety of roles to help change the lives of some of the world’s poorest people.

In sub-Saharan Africa, 93 per cent of the population do not have access to safe and affordable surgery when they need it. This results in over 17 million people dying each year from treatable conditions. That’s more than die from TB, Malaria and HIV combined.

Mercy Ships addresses this global surgery crisis within Africa by sending hospital ships staffed by volunteers to the places where they are needed most. The doctors and nurses also train local medical professionals who will stay in their home countries, effecting change long after Mercy Ships departs. Mercy Ships has touched more than 2.7 million lives since 1978.

“We are so grateful for the volunteers who travel to the Africa Mercy to volunteer their time and skills. Only 50 per cent of the roles on the ship are medical and every role is filled by a volunteer. From the cleaners to the nurses, the receptionists to the electricians; we couldn’t offer this vital service without them," said Hannah Mulvihill, crew support coordinator for Mercy Ships.


As a medical student Felicity did her elective for seven weeks in Arusha and Dar es Salam, Tanzania and found it so rewarding that she knew she wanted to continue to offer her medical services to people in developing countries especially Africa.

She said: "The people there were so kind and thankful and I was constantly amazed how they managed to provide care with minimal resources and the ingenious adaptions they used. It made me appreciate how privileged we are in the UK.


"I have now been a doctor for nearly 10 years and trained hard to specialise as an anaesthetist. I am really looking forward to use my training to help the sick adults and children of Senegal and greatly reduce the risk of death that is associated with anaesthesia in the developing world."

To give treatment free of charge the ship relies on monetary donations and people volunteering their time and expertise. Mercy Ships is aiming to provide 1200-1700 life changing operations in Senegal.

Felicity added: "I am raising money for Mercy Ships so more people can be helped and useful teaching resources can be bought. I have set up a Just Giving Page called Felicity’s Mercy Ship Appeal or alternatively please call the Mercy Ships office on 01438 727800 and specify my name (Dr Felicity Avann) to donate."

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Lucy Todman

By Lucy Todman

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star and Shrewsbury Chronicle based in Shrewsbury.


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