Dr Ola Orekunrin is a British-Nigerian healthcare entrepreneur, medical doctor, and pioneer of the first air Ambulance service in Lagos, Nigeria; Flying Doctors Nigeria Ltd which provides urgent helicopter, air plane ambulance and evacuation services in Nigeria and other countries across West Africa.
Dr Ola Orekunrin who hails from Ilawe-Ekiti in Ekiti State of Nigeria, was born, raised and trained in the UK, where she graduated as one of the youngest medical doctors in England at age 21 is a member of the American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine. Presently,a helicopter pilot with specialized training in aviation medicine.
Dr Ola lost her sister who became extremely ill on holiday whilst staying with relatives in Nigeria. The local hospital was unable to manage her sickle cell anaemia condition, and as a result, Ola and her family started to search for an air ambulance so that she could be safely transported to a suitable medical facility in the country. The tragedy for the family was that there were no air ambulances to be found, even though the search took them from Nigeria, to Ghana, Sierra Leone and Cameroon, and across West Africa. The only one to be found was in South Africa, 5 hours away, but by the time the logistics had been arranged, Ola’s sister had died of her condition. The real tragedy is that she didn’t die because her condition was unmanageable; she died of a condition that could have been managed with the right medicines in the cupboard of a highly efficient Accident and Emergency hospital ward – it was just a problem of access.
Ola Orekunrin was motivated to start the charity after experiencing the loss of her sister under difficult circumstances. The death of her sister and the circumstances that caused it, broke Ola’s heart, so she left her job and took the decision to move to Nigeria where she could try to make a difference to the lives of other patients and improving healthcare in the country as a whole.
Awards & Nominations
She has received several awards and recognition. Some of which include; ThisDay Awards (Contribution to Health in Africa) 2012, The Future Award as ‘Entrepreneur of the year 2012’, NewsDirect Awards as ‘Outstanding Female CEO of the Year 2013’. She is also a TED fellow and has been honoured by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as a Young Global Leader.
Dr Ola Orekunrin got married last year to her heartthrob, David in a beach wedding in Lagos.