The national Masonic Charitable Foundation has pledged £50,000 to a scheme training young medics in the latest life-saving techniques which are common in the UK.
The programme will train 30 Nigerian surgeons and nurses, who in turn, will treat more than a thousand surgical patients every year across the continent.
Project leader Professor Robert Lane said: “We’re really grateful for this generous grant from the Freemasons.
“We’re already liaising with the West African College of Surgeons to discover where the need is greatest and this new funding will allow us to start planning the first part of the training programme.”
The donation will fund travel and accommodation for all the volunteer trainer surgeons, surgical training equipment, programme arrangements and administration.
Prof Lane added: “Thanks to the Freemasons we’re going to be able to help save many lives across the region.”
Currently, the vast majority of the 1.2billion people living in Africa do not have access to safe and affordable surgery, resulting in an estimated 17million deaths a year.
As the continent’s most populous country, with more than 200million people, Nigeria suffers a significant share of that impact.
Michael Hitchcock, from Derbyshire Freemasons, said: “We were deeply shocked to hear that 95 per cent of Africa’s population have almost zero access to surgical care.
“There are fewer than two surgeons for every 100,000 African people, while in the UK we have around 90 surgeons for every 100,000 British people.”
He added: “We are optimistic this donation will help the surgeons to improve their knowledge and enable them to take care of the largest number of people.
“It’s critically important that new African surgeons and nurses are trained, and this programme is an excellent start.”
Funded entirely via the generosity of Freemasons and their families, the Masonic Charitable Foundation is one of the largest grant-making charities in the UK, giving away some £40m every year to help individual members, local communities and global emergencies.