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The Story of Nigeria’s First Medical Air Transport Service


It all started when Ola Orekunrin’s sister, a 12-year-old, was travelling in West Africa and needed urgent medical attention due to sickle cell anemia. Unable to find a suitable medical facility in the vicinity, they tried hiring a medical air transport service but were left in dismay when they learnt there was none in the whole of West Africa. The only medical air transport service they could find was in South Africa. Unfortunately, the activation of medical air transport itself took over 12 hours, which was too late for the little girl and she died in these tragic circumstances. The incident changed the life of Ola Orekunrin who was, at the time, studying to be a medical doctor in the United Kingdom.

Medical Air Transport Service was Ola Orekunrin’s Answer

Ola had decided on taking the challenges of healthcare in Nigeria head-on after the family tragedy. Soon, she combined her skills as a doctor and an entrepreneur to start Nigeria’s first medical air transport company and named it Flying Doctors Nigeria. She today is a helicopter pilot herself. Her medical air transport company has been serving several victims throughout the region including the industrial workers in the oil and gas realm.

In a country where getting adequate medical attention takes anywhere from three to four days, Ola Orekunrin’s medical air transport service is changing the face of health care access. Moreover, carrying patients on an aircraft means avoiding bad roads and even armed robbers who throng some of the Nigerian streets at night.

Ola’s Medical Air Transport Company has Accomplished a Lot

Ola Orekunrin’s Flying Doctors Nigeria has so far rescued over 500 patients in a span of three years. The company today owns a fleet of aircrafts that include both airplanes and choppers. The entrepreneur said that her medical air transport company has even rescued people from bomb blast injuries, gunshot injuries, and traffic accidents, to name a few.

A Bit About the Founder of the Medical Air Transport Company

Ola Orekunrin has recently been named Young Global Leader by the prestigious World Economic Forum and it is no small feat, especially considering that she is just 27. She was born in England and grew up in a foster home in Lowestoft. She graduated as a doctor from University of York at 21 and moved to Japan on a scholarship program for research on regenerative medicine.

Ultimately, however, she shunned lucrative opportunities in Europe and moved to Africa so that she can reach the needy masses of the region. Ola Orekunrin continues to surge ahead tacking with the red tape and the bureaucracy of the region. Supporting her medical air transport business, which is pretty expensive in Nigeria when compared to other parts of the world, has not been easy but she is definitely a winner.

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