AMREF Flying Doctors (AFD) is well known for its contributions to medical assistance and air ambulance services, backed by an impressive decade-long history. What additional aspects should we be aware of regarding AFD?
AFD offers a range of medical services, including medical standbys for corporate and social events, sports activities, and particularly as part of the Maisha subscription cover. We are frequently called upon to provide medical standbys for affluent individuals visiting upscale tourist destinations or participating in filming expeditions. These medical standbys encompass the provision of an ambulance, a critical care nurse, and an EMT, along with all the necessary equipment. In certain situations this may even involve stationing a fully equipped aircraft, complete with both medical and flight personnel, at a destination for several days.
Furthermore, AFD is an accredited training centre certified by the American Heart Association (AHA) to offer instruction in Heart Saver First Aid, Basic Life Support (BLS), and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS). We have a team of accredited trainers who impart these essential skills to healthcare professionals, nurses, and doctors in East Africa and beyond. Additionally, we offer medical escort services on commercial carriers.
Beyond our medical services, AFD is making substantial investments in developing our general aviation capabilities, both in terms of assets and personnel. This investment is geared towards ensuring that we are always well-prepared to meet the needs of our clients.
Reflecting on the past decade, have you observed any shifts in travel patterns when it comes to visits to Africa?
East Africa continues to stand out as a prime tourist destination, and the region has witnessed a remarkable resurgence in visitor numbers, particularly in the post-Covid-19 pandemic era. An intriguing trend has been the influx of a younger demographic of traveller. This demographic notably includes students engaged in volunteer rotations at hospitals or participating in community projects throughout East Africa. Their interest in both experiencing the beauty of the region and contributing to the local communities has added a unique dimension to the tourism landscape.
In the course of assisting our clients across the continent, we have come across some unforeseen and emerging destinations that have piqued our interest. One such example is the route from Diego Garcia to Kigali, which has witnessed a growing demand for assistance. Additionally, the route from Diego Garcia to Sri Lanka has gained unexpected popularity among travellers. Moreover, we have received assistance requests from regions spanning across Southern, Northern, and West Africa. This diversification of travel destinations showcases the evolving preferences and dynamics in the travel industry, reflecting the diverse interests of today's travellers.
Given your extensive work with global clients, often serving as their primary solution in Africa, what key insights would you like to convey to clients regarding operating on the African continent and delivering medical assistance and air ambulance support?
Africa, as a vast continent, is characterised by its rich diversity, encompassing numerous countries, each marked by distinct levels of development, culture, and language. Consequently, the ease of conducting business operations can vary significantly from one nation to another.
For the most part, AFD excels in orchestrating air ambulance flights and furnishing vital assistance support. This capability stems from the extensive connections and networks that we have diligently cultivated over the years. These ‘boots on the ground’ resources prove invaluable in handling the intricate and challenging requests that occasionally come our way from clients and partners. The AFD team is steadfast in its commitment to delivering optimal solutions and getting the job done correctly right from the outset.
The importance of rigorous risk assessments cannot be overstated, especially when dealing with requests for transport to conflict-prone regions or locations deemed hazardous for both our crew and assets. Language barriers can sometimes impede the promptness of our responses, particularly with regard to assistance requests. Nevertheless, we have effectively addressed this issue by enlisting carefully vetted agents who can assist in such scenarios, ensuring that language differences do not hinder our swift response.
Looking ahead, what does the future hold for AFD? Could you outline some of the milestones AFD aims to accomplish within the next three years?
• Enhancing our presence in Africa for assistance services as valued assistance partners to our diverse client base
Our foremost objective is to expand our reach in Africa, serving as a trusted assistance partner to our numerous clients. We are committed to extending our footprint across the continent to offer seamless assistance services, ensuring that we are readily available to support our clients in their times of need
• Optimising our aircraft fleet for expedited long-distance operations
We are actively exploring ways to upgrade and adapt our aircraft fleet to achieve extended ranges and reduce response times to a minimum. Our aim is to ensure that we can swiftly reach our clients, even in the most remote locations, providing efficient and timely assistance when it matters the most
• Making medical air evacuation accessible and affordable for the advancement of healthcare services in Africa
We are dedicated to demystifying and positioning medical air evacuation as an indispensable, accessible, and cost-effective service in advancing the field of medical services throughout Africa. To achieve this goal, we will focus on further developing our subscription and membership services, making high-quality medical care readily available to individuals and communities across the continent.
Finally, what are your aspirations for the upcoming new year?
We eagerly look forward to seeing a significant resurgence and expansion in our clients' businesses, which will, in turn, result in heightened demand for our comprehensive services. Through our unwavering commitment to delivering exceptional care across our diverse areas of expertise, spanning from air ambulance operations, assistance services, training, to Maisha plans, we look forward to being the reliable support that individuals and communities across our captivating continent can count on. Moreover, our unyielding dedication to fostering sustainable transformations within Africa's healthcare system underscores our role in contributing to the overall well-being of the region. In essence, we are certainly excited for another great year with the AMREF Flying Doctors Team!