Nigeria’s health care sector faces numerous challenges, part of which are funding, capacity, logistics and a host of others. Today I spend time speaking with a young Nigerian doctor, Dr Ola Brown who seems to be solving a major health care challenge, Logistics, with her enterprise Fly Doctors.
By Ayodele Adio
Why did you choose to study medicine?
I chose to study medicine because I enjoyed science subjects and because I thought that the practice of medicine was a unique way that I could serve my community
What was your experience studying and practicing medicine abroad?
I was born and raised in England so at the time, I felt that I was working and studying at home, not abroad. But now Lagos is my home
Why did you return to Nigeria? Was it an opportunity you recognized or it was an altruistic decision?
A mixture of both to be honest. I wanted to work in Africa, but I also felt there was a unique opportunity to serve within the healthcare industry here
How did you conceive the idea for Flying Doctors?
I grew up in a country where most patients can get to the right medical facility within the correct time frame partly because of their sophisticated air ambulance system. I wanted to make that a reality in Nigeria as well.
Would you say the flying doctors project has made a considerable impact in health care delivery or accessibility in Nigeria?
Many assume that the only way to improve health care is to build more hospitals. But improving access to health care; air ambulances form an essential part of the health care system.
How would you respond to people who think that flying doctors is somewhat elitist and out of reach for the masses who really need the service?
Air ambulance services are an essential part of any health care system and we are working hard to ensure we increase availability
What major lessons have you learnt so far running this organization?
People are everything. Trust within teams. The importance of recruiting and developing good people.
What would you consider the most fundamental problem with the Nigerian health sector?
Am I allowed two?
Access to care and health care funding.
What policies can you suggest that will tremendously boost healthcare delivery in Nigeria?
Increasing proportion of budget for healthcare; centralizing healthcare services. Embracing technology like e-health
Nigeria has too many doctors leaving the country to practice elsewhere, particularly in developed societies, what impact does this have on the healthcare sector and how can we reverse this trend?
It lowers the doctor to patient ratio and strains the system
Taking government led steps to make working as a doctor in Nigeria more attractive
In what other way are you using your experience and exposure to help the Nigerian health sector?
We run a CSR program which focuses of women/girls and their healthcare
What future plans do you have for your organization?
Expansion across Africa
Tell us a bit about other interests you have away from medicine?
Entrepreneurship and tech.