Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Lasting impact: insights from a surgical mission-based mentoring training programme in the Republic of Congo
  1. Michelle White,
  2. Kristin Close
  1. Department of Medical Capacity Building, Mercy Ships, Port of Cotonou, Benin
  1. Correspondence to Dr Michelle White; doctormcw{at}


The global shortage of surgeons, anaesthetists and obstetricians is significant, especially in low and middle income countries (LMICs). A significant amount of LMIC surgical volume is provided by surgical missions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who are often well resourced, making them ideal environments for training. However, there are few publications addressing how to train in this setting, or the long-term impact of such training. Mercy Ships operates the largest non-governmental hospital ship in the world, the Africa Mercy, serving LMICs at the invitation of their President by providing free surgery and training for the surgical workforce. Mercy Ships developed and offered a comprehensive training programme across surgical specialties and disciplines in the Republic of Congo, 2013–2014. In this analysis paper, we present our experiences in developing and implementing the training portion of the programme. We also present the findings of an evaluation of the programme, which show a sustained positive impact and lasting change on personal and organisational practice 12–18 months post-training. We also make recommendations to NGOs and surgical mission organisations seeking to augment the impact of surgical missions with effective surgical training programmes.

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Handling editor Seye Abimbola

  • Contributors MW designed the mentoring programme. MW and KC designed and conducted the evaluation. MW wrote the first draft of the manuscript. KC revised the manuscript. MW and KC agreed on the final version.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Mercy Ships Institutional Review Board.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.