Meet Ola Orekunrin: CEO of Flying Doctors Nigeria, the 1st air ambulance service in West Africa

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Ola Orekunrin on her wedding day. Photo: House of Tara


Ola Orekunrin is a British-Nigerian medical doctor who founded Flying Doctors Nigeria, West Africa’s first air ambulance service providers.

The young medical practitioner is gradually changing the face of Africa’s healthcare services with her team of flying doctors.

Ola, who was born and raised in the UK by her foster parents, graduated from medical school at the age of 21, becoming England’s youngest medical doctor.

She was still in medical school when her younger sister, a sickle cell anaemia patient, sadly passed away while the family was visiting Nigeria. The death occurred as a result of inefficient medical facilities here in Nigeria and the unavailability of an air ambulance service in the whole of West Africa that could transport her to a well-equipped hospital. The nearest was in South Africa and before the medical team could arrive, Ola’s 12-year-old sister had given up the fight.

The circumstances of her younger sister’s death inspired Ola to start Flying Doctors Nigeria

Motivated by this death, Orekunrin quit her job at England’s National Health Service and relocated to Lagos, Nigeria where she offered her services to build a better medical system, not just for Nigeria, but for West Africa as a whole. This led to the birth of Flying Doctors Nigeria in 2007, a medical team dedicated to providing critical care via air transportation to both the private and public sectors, to companies and to individuals.

As a helicopter pilot with specialised training in aviation medicine, Ola has taken it upon herself to put both her passion for medicine and flying into good use.

Ola Orunkunrin and her team

She was listed on Forbes Africa’s 30 before 30, a platform that showcases 30 of Africa’s most promising young entrepreneurs under the age of 30.



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