AMREF Flying Doctors | A dedicated humanitarian charity out to save lives

by Amref Health Africa

Access to medical care can be expensive and challenging, especially in low and middle-income countries. Sir Michael Wood, Archibald McIndoe, and Thomas Rees, Founders of AMREF, identified this gap in East Africa in 1957 and began health care projects for people in rural and remote areas. Over 60 years later, AMREF Flying Doctors, a subsidiary of Amref Health Africa, remains committed to providing a wide range of medical services, medical assistance services, and Emergency Life Support skills training.

AMREF Flying Doctors invests in evacuating patients in Kenya who need urgent medical attention but cannot afford it, such as those involved in road traffic accidents, pregnancy and birth complications, and inter-tribal wars. We also conduct regular missions on behalf of the Government of Kenya through the Kenya National Disaster Operation Centre (NDOC).

These charity missions are carried out under exceptional circumstances in partnership with the county government, rural medical facilities, Kenyatta National Hospital (Kenya’s largest referral hospital), and other private medical institutions.

Over the years, this humanitarian project has seen tremendous impact in various communities, evident in the number of charity missions completed.


On 14 June 2022, the AMREF Flying Doctors’ Emergency and Control Centre received a from Marsabit requesting an urgent emergency aeromedical evacuation of two patients suffering from gunshot wounds following an attack on three vehicles near Marsabit along the Marsabit-Moyale Highway. Marsabit is a semi-arid region in northern Kenya, bordering Ethiopia to the north. Medical facilities are sparsely populated and inadequately equipped.

To provide the critically ill patient with the degree of care they required, they needed to be medically evacuated from the location to a hospital with the necessary resources and medical professionals. The two casualties’ cases were evaluated, and the decision was made to evacuate them from Marsabit to Nairobi.

The call conveyed that the casualties sustained gunshot wounds, with bullets still lodged on their bodies. In most cases, every gunshot wound represents a serious injury, especially in an ill-equipped medical facility. As a result, a crew was immediately assembled.


AMREF Flying Doctors quickly began coordinating the emergency evacuation to ensure the patients were transported safely to the treating hospital in Nairobi for specialised care. While our medical personnel reviewed the patients’ medical records in preparation for flight, the coordinator coordinated the patients’ hospitalisation at the receiving hospital.

In one hour’s time, the team had safely landed on Marsabit airstrip. The team began assembling the equipment on the ground as they waited for the ambulance, which arrived later than expected. Finally, the injured were brought to the airstrip in an ambulance. They were stabilised and were safely and securely aboard the air ambulance.

They were all stable enough to fly to Nairobi for specialised treatment.

Take-off time was 18:50 hrs preceding a smooth one-hour flight, after which we landed in Nairobi at 19:55 hrs. They were taken to the treating hospital by the Advanced Life Support Ground Ambulance.

Throughout the entire mission, AMREF Flying Doctors’ highest priorities were keeping the patient comfortable and maintaining constant communication with all parties involved, including the patients’ families. Thanks to this coordinated effort, the team planned and executed this emergency evacuation, bringing the patients successfully to life-saving care.

Article first published on

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