A team of local doctors is going the extra mile, diagnosing vulnerable patients who live on the other side of the world.

Dr. Greg Raymond and some colleagues at MIC Medical Imaging are helping the 450 volunteers at the Africa Mercy—the world’s largest non-governmental hospital ship.

Martha Henderson, a Scottish senior radiology technologist, spoke with CTV News from the ship currently docked in Conakry, Guinea.

“We don’t have any windows on the third deck,” she said. “Then you remember you’re on a ship.”

Africa Mercy sails around West Africa’s coast, where it stops at various ports in 10-month intervals. It provides medical care to some of the world’s poorest people—most of them who have tumours in the head, neck or mouth.

“The conditions that we see are conditions of poverty,” Henderson said. “It could happen to you at home, but your dentist would pick it up very quickly and it would never get to the extent of some of the patients that we see.”

The decision on whether or not to operate is made in Edmonton. In the past decade, a small team of local radiologists have examined thousands of cases in their spare time.

“It was at first overwhelming,” Raymond told CTV News. “But there’s a great joy that comes with knowing that we’re actually helping them.”

Henderson said the Edmonton team is needed to keep the operation afloat.

“To whom much is given, much is expected,” Raymond said. “Living here in Canada we have so much, so to be able to help these people who have nothing is a great reward.”

With files from CTV Edmonton’s Dan Grummett