Flying Doctors Nigeria: the story of Africa’s Most Promising Healthcare Air-Service Wonder

For many road users in inner cities across Africa, the piercing sound of siren and ambulance rushing patients to the hospital is a daily occurrence.

Africa’s mega population is often not marched with adequate infrastructure including road network. The result is the large number of vehicular and human movement causing traffic gridlock.

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Dr Ola, founder of flying doctors Nigeria, photo credit: talksfriendite.comzz

Traffic jam hampers emergency services including critical health services like patient transport to medical centers across Africa.

Transport delays caused by traffic jam. The sometimes distant location of specialist hospitals makes it necessary that other speedy forms of ambulance service, like air ambulance, be considered in Africa’s crowded and steaming cities like Kinshasa, Cairo and Lagos.

Limited access to fast-speed ambulance services have resulted in the unnecessary loss of lives in Africa’s inner cities.

A typical example is the case of the sister of Dr Ola Orekunrin, the Founder and Managing Director of Flying Doctors Nigeria.

Dr Ola Orekunrin had a sister who suffered from severe sickle cell anemia condition. Her local hospital could not handle her crisis. This led the local doctor to refer her to a specialist hospital.

However, with her health condition it was traumatic to travel on road.

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Dr Ola and one of her helicopter ambulance, photo credit: jacjackie4308.blogspot.comnowing fully well the challenges therein. The next option was to use an air ambulance to air lift her to the specialists.

The next viable option was not easily accessible. There was no available air ambulance in West Africa. The closest air ambulance was 5 hours away in South Africa.

But before payments and logistics were concluded, Dr Ola’s sister gave up.

This was a turning point in the life of the Medical graduate of the University of York, United Kingdom. Ola was determined to set up an air ambulance service in one of Africa’s  most populous country. A home-grown solution to preventing untimely loss of life.

Dr Ola who was born and raised in London. She loved medicine.

She matched this passion for medicine with dedication. She had excellent results graduating at the age of 21. Her exceptional journey in medicine earned her a Japanese government scholarship.

She studied at the Jikei university hospital in Japan.

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the interior of an air ambulance aircraft, photo credit: etumedevac.com

After the death of her sister, Dr Ola who is also a trained helicopter pilot left her job in the UK for Nigeria.

Nigeria is her parents country of origin. This was were she sought to set up an air ambulance service.

In time, she made her move and so began the story of Flying Doctors Nigeria, one of Africa’s most promising air ambulance service.

Dr Ola has been making positive impact in  West Africa’s diverse countrysides.

She is getting critically, health-challenged persons to hospitals on time. Flying Doctors provides emergency healthcare services while in transit.

With at least 20 aircraft and more than 30 staff, flying doctors Nigeria is the first air-ambulance company based in Nigeria. It services  West Africa’s inner cities from Lagos, Accra to Lome and many cities in between.

Like every African start up, the road has not been smooth. Lots of effort required and mistakes have been made. But Dr Ola’s doggedness and determination did pay off. It earned her honor and recognition.

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photo credit: howafrica.com

In 2013, the world economic forum named her among its prestigious Young Global Leaders.

On the future plans for her company, it is about bringing healthcare and hope to the inner most regions of West Africa, rewriting Africa’s story and revolutionizing the healthcare sector.

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