Some organisations are unassailably good. Amref Health Africa is one such organisation.
Formed in 1957, by three reconstructive surgeons, it runs Africa’s leading air ambulance and medical outreach service. The organisation works closely with Kenya’s Kenyatta National Hospital, was the first African organisation to receive the Gates Award for Global Health and today reaches over 13 million people across sub-Saharan Africa. It is engaged in servicing the training needs of more than 8,750 health professionals every year in 156 hospitals dotted throughout the region. Its founder, Michael Wood, received a knighthood in 1985.
It only takes the most rudimentary knowledge of eastern African history to know that Amref was born, took flight and served in a time of extraordinary change. The early 1960s marks the end of colonial rule, the nascent beginnings of democratic government. Given their size, Kenya and Tanzania have always faced enormous logistical problems vis-a-vis servicing the health needs of their rural populations. Uganda under Idi Amin and Milton Obote suffered often complete breakdowns in communications. Rwanda we all know about, as we do the current situation in Southern Sudan. Ethiopia, now the region’s fastest growing economy, suffered terribly from drought, resultant famines and a war that eventually saw Eritrea gain independence in 1991.
Amref Health Africa was, is and will continue to be a vital source of expertise and emergency services to rural eastern Africa. Now a charity reaching 30 countries, it is heavily involved in community health programmes and carries great weight at the highest of levels. As a matter of course, Journeys by Design buys in its Maisha air ambulance cover for every one of our safaris. A decade’s worth of safari making and we have had cause to use them on just a couple of occasions. They were unfailingly brilliant.
Also, one last thing: As a child, there was always, for me, something quite magical about doctors that fly. Angels with metal wings. I still feel this way. And sleep much better for knowing they’re there.