Project information

Medical Ship

Primary health care aids and helps promote 4 of the millennium development goals. We have seen the transformational effect of such provision to marginalized people in Amazonia as our existing medical ships now serve 100,000 people per annum. A 3rd medical ship will serve a new group of communities.

September 2011 - April 2013

Charity information: The Vine Trust

The Vine Trust logo
  • Need


    There are still many communities in the world without access to any basic healthcare. Many of these are accessible only by water or flying doctor services. Our aim is to identify those marginalised people and to overcome the difficulties local authorities have in reaching them with the provision of a medical ship and the resources to run it until the local authority can assume its proper role.


    We will replicate our existing model on the Amazon and acquire, refit and deliver a medical ship for use in the selected area. (Logistical analysis and primary healthcare surveys are currently being carried out.) We will employ local staff to run the ship and volunteer clinicians to complement the local staff in providing a year round service to selected communities. We will liaise with the relevant local authorities with a view to including them in the project development and delivery.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Acquire a suitable vessel for conversion to a medical ship


    » Locate and purchase the vessel

    Success will be a ship of the right size and dimensions acquired for refitting as a medical ship

    Aim 2

    Refit the vessel for medical use


    » Secure a corporate sponsor to carry out the conversion works
    » Transport the vessel to the sponsor’s dock/berth
    » o Acquire medical fittings required

    Success will be a refitted medical ship with facilities for clinics, dentistry and a small operating theatre on board

    Aim 3

    Confirm the communities the vessel will serve


    » Complete a baseline primary healthcare survey on Lake Victoria or any alternative required
    » Liaise with the local authorities in the region to secure local support and advice for the project

    Success will be a completed baseline survey determining the area and need within the area the ship is to serve

    Aim 4

    Transport the vessel to its new communities’ home port


    » Secure a volunteer crew
    » Re-Insure and Licence the vessel for its new usage
    » Arrange and sail/transport the vessel from its fitting out dock/berth to its new home port

    Success will be arrival of the ship at its operational base

  • Impact


    This project will bring primary health care – basic health education, dental care and GP services – to communities not yet served by any clinicians. We will demonstrate the success of the project by monitoring the numbers served annually by the medical ship and comparing this with the baseline survey results of primary health care provision before the ship becomes operational. Success will be a medical ship serving a new community of 100,000 plus marginalised people (per annum) by 2014.


    There is a potential risk of piracy en route to the ship’s final destination. We hope to mitigate this risk with naval support in the risk areas.


    Donors will receive the Vine Trust’s “Connections” newsletter detailing progress. They will also be able to monitor progress online via the Trust’s website, which is regularly updated. For those who opt in to use our Twitter and Facebook feeds, they will automatically be notified when updates occur.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £350,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £100,000 Ship's Acquisition Probable purchase price
      £100,000 Medical fittings Medical equipment required in last stage of sponsored refit
      £25,000 Baseline Survey Primary healthcare survey on Lake Victoria
      £25,000 Transportation costs Costs and fees associated with transporting the ship
      £100,000 Set up Costs In country set up costs (staff etc.)

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Private Trust Fund £100,000 Conditional
  • Background


    Our first choice communities occupy the Tanzanian islands within Lake Victoria – approximately 400,000 people on 153 islands. If our surveys (being carried out in 2011) do not show this project area to be logistically feasible, then we will extend our work in Amazonia, serving a second country downstream from Peru. This is an area we know well having the experience of supplying two previous medical ships operating out of Iquitos, Peru.


    Some of the most marginalised and poor people in the developing world – either in Tanzania or Amazonia – will receive regular healthcare for the first time

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    VT has successfully acquired, refitted, supplied and operated (with local partners) two medical ships in Amazonia. The first ship was dispatched in 2002 and the second in 2005. Since delivery both ships have been operational throughout the year and manned by local staff and volunteer clinicians from the UK.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Willie McPherson, CEO

    CEO for 11 years has overseen all of VT’s major achievements listed above. He has the vision and the strategic planning skills to bring this home

    Christine John

    A solicitor with a Masters in Development (2005) from SOAS has 10 years experience heading a development project across East Africa

    Calum Munro

    A member of the SMT, has been responsible for organising and leading the volunteer program which connects UK volunteers with VT supported projects.

One we made earlier...

One we made earlier...

This trip (as a volunteer on the VT Medical Ship) has reminded me why I became a doctor !

Scottish GP