Medical Doctors Withdraw Services over Abduction of Colleague in Abia
Medical doctors in Abia State have suspended further rendering of medical services in all public and private hospitals across the state to register their grievances over the abduction of their colleague, Professor Uwadinachi Iweha.
Iweha, who is the Provost of Gregary University College of Medicine, Umuahia campus, was kidnapped on Sunday, June 5, 2022, by unknown hoodlums as he was driving out of his residence at Umuajameze Ezeleke Umuokpara Umuahia South Local Government.
Ten days after the ugly incident, the fate of Iweha, who was the Chief Medical Director of Abia State University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH), Aba, and Abia Specialist Hospital and Diagnostic Centre, is still unknown.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Abia State, Dr. Chimezie Okwuonu, yesterday announced the withdrawal of medical services in a statement he jointly signed with the State Secretary of NMA, Dr. Robinson Ugwuanyi, after the prayer/rally the NMA held simultaneously in Umuahia and Aba.
Okwuonu said: “The NMA Abia State have commenced a withdrawal of services in both public and private sectors, to register its deep displeasure at this unfortunate incident and give its members time to join the family in searching for its member.”
The Abia NMA leadership stated that “with the current state of fear caused by the kidnap and detention of our colleague, safety cannot be guaranteed and it will be difficult to attend to duties as normal as no one knows who will be the next victim.”
By embarking on indefinite withdrawal of their services, the Abia NMA members have carried out the threat they made last Friday when the association took its protest to Abia State Government House and appealed for government intervention to free the kidnapped physician.
He explained that the NMA was deeply involved in the welfare of medical doctors in Abia State.
Okwuonu said: “We are worried that nine days down the line, Prof. Uwadinachi Iweha is still within the kidnappers’ den.
“This is traumatic, depressing, dehumanising and has instilled a lot of fear within the medical community whose primary objective is to save the life of Abians from the medical point of view.
“The medical doctors work all round the clock. This includes normal duties, surgeries, clinical calls, emergencies and administrative duties. The nature and scope of our work involves being on the road any time you are called, as more than 95 per cent of doctors reside outside their place of work.”
Nonetheless, the Abia NMA leadership assured that emergency services would be maintained “to enable our members attend to critical patients. We shall also take out time to pray for Prof. Iweha and carry out a very peaceful rally to show that we stand by our own in this time of trial.
“Our physicians pledge, as amended by the 68th World Medical Association General Assembly Chicago in 2017, states in line 11 ‘I will take care of my health and wellbeing, and abilities in order to provide care of the highest standards.’
“With the kidnap and continued detention of our colleague, we are not assured of our health and wellbeing as doctors in this environment; hence may not provide care of highest standard.”
He also expressed appreciation to the President of NMA, Dr. Uche Ojinmah and members of the National Officers Committee “for identifying with us during this period and for releasing numerous press statements to register its concern on the spate of kidnap and its effect on the fabric of the medical profession.”
The Abia NMA chairman reiterated the “utmost desire” of the association that the government should do all in its power “to secure the release of our colleague and restore the peace and security we enjoy.”