Nigerian Female Doctor Establishes First Ever Air Ambulance Services


Ola Orekunrin, now 30 yrs old is from Ilawe-Ekiti in Ekiti State, Nigeria. She was born, bred and trained in the United Kingdom, where she became one of the youngest medical doctor in England. She is also a trainee helicopter pilot. According to Ola Orekunrin:

  “Against all odds, I passed my A-Levels with flying colors, started my degree at the University of York at 15. I supported myself all through, working. I wrote my final medical examinations at 21, thus emerging the youngest medical doctor in England”.

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While she was a medical undergraduate in the UK, her younger sister became very sick while traveling in Nigeria. The 12-year-old girl, who had traveled to Nigeria on holiday with relatives, needed urgent medical attention, but the nearest hospital was unable to handle her condition.

Ready to save her sister by all means, Orekunrin and her family immediately started searching for an air ambulance service to quickly transport the girl, a sickle cell anemia sufferer, to a more suitable hospital. But unfortunately, their search all across West Africa proved futile as there was no air ambulance service in the whole region. Orekunrin sadly recalled that:

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“The nearest one at the time was in South Africa. They had a 12-hour activation time so by the time they were ready to activate, my sister was dead. It was really a devastating time for me and I started thinking about whether I should be in England talking about healthcare in Africa, or I should be in Africa dealing with healthcare and trying to do something about it.”

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Motivated by the painful loss of her sister, Ola Orekunrin choose the latter. The young doctor resolved to forsake a lucrative job in the UK to take to the Nigerian skies and solve the critical issue of urgent healthcare in Africa’s most populous country.

Strengthened by her determination to make a difference in medical practice and health care delivery system in Nigeria, Orekunrin decided to establish Flying Doctors Nigeria, based in Lagos State. It is the first ever air ambulance service in West Africa, conveying victims of medical emergencies, including industrial workers from the country’s oil and gas sector. It basically makes available critical care transportation solutions to both the private and public sector by selling yearly air ambulance cover plans to states, companies and individuals. Since then, she has succeeded in steering the company to higher grounds in achieving its corporate goals and ensuring sustained growth.

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