Abia: Medical doctors withdraw services over kidnap of colleague

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) Abia State chapter has announced the withdrawal of medical services to patients, to demand the release of Uwadinachi Iweha, a professor of medicine, kidnapped on June 6, 2022, by unknown gunmen.

Consequently, both private and public hospitals in Abia State would remain closed to patients until the 76-year-old professor is released by his abductors, the doctors threatened Tuesday during their protest.

Iweha, a former medical director of the Abia State University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH), Aba, was kidnapped on Sunday, June 6, 2022, at about 4.00pm in front of his house at Umuajameze Ezeleke Umuokpara, Umuahia South local government area, and whisked away in his Toyota Highlander car.

Chimezie Godswill Okwuonu, the chairman, Abia NMA in an address read by Umenwa Joachim, the vice-chairman of the chapter, stated that doctors in the state were no longer sure of their safety while discharging their duties.

To express this fear, he noted that they carried out a peaceful protest after its meeting on Friday, June 10, 2022, to the Government House, Umuahia, to register their displeasure over the kidnap of their senior colleague, noting that they are still looking up to the promise of the chief of staff to the state governor, Okey Ahaiwe, who assured them, on behalf of the governor, that government will do the needful to ensure the release of their colleague.

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“Today, Tuesday, June 14, 2022, the NMA Abia State has 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.

“However, emergency services are still going on to enable our members to attend to critical patients. We shall also take out time to pray for Iweha and carry out a peaceful rally to show that we stand by our own in this time of trial”, Okwuonu stated.

The Abia NMA chairman stated that as an association, it contacted the relevant security agencies and the government of Abia State but till date (Tuesday, June 14), they were yet to hear from their colleague.

According to him, “As an association deeply involved in the welfare of medical doctors in Abia State, we are worried that nine days down the line, Iweha is still within the kidnappers’ den.

“This is traumatic, depressing, dehumanising and has instilled fear within the medical community whose primary objective is to save the life of Abians from the medical point of view.

“Iweha served Abia State diligently, as the chief medical director of Abia State University Teaching Hospital, Aba and Abia Specialist Hospital and Diagnostic Centre.

“Currently he is the provost of Gregory University College of Medicine, Umuahia Campus. Our earnest prayer is that his health condition does not deteriorate further and he comes back alive to us and his family.”

He said the nature and scope of their work involve being on the road any time they are called, as more than 95 percent of doctors reside outside their place of work.

He added that with the current state of fear, caused by the kidnap and detention of Iweha, their 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.