Under the umbrella of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Abia State chapter, medical doctors in both public and private health clinics announced their infinite pullout of services.
According to their claim, the service pullback is a way for them to announce their annoyance at the abduction of one of their senior coworker, Professor Uwadinachi Iweha, nine days earlier from his community in Umuajameze Local Council in the state’s southland, a few kilometers from the state capital, Umuahia.
In a space of 3 years, Dr. Iweha, who works at the Umuahia campus of Gregory University Uturu’s College of Medicine, is the 5th physician to be abducted in the state.
The Chairman of the NMA, Dr. Chimezie Okwuonu, spoke to the medical staff at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) in Umuahia, who conducted a peaceful demonstration carrying signs and praying for Iweha’s release. He said the service withdrawal will give them time to join their abducted colleague’s family in searching for him.
“We shall pray for Iweha and hold a peaceful demonstration to show our support for our colleague in this period of upheaval,” he added.
Nevertheless, doctors will still render emergency services to the public. “We hope that the authorities will assist in the quick release of our colleague and restore peace and security,” he said. “We appeal to anybody who has knowledge about the missing doctor’s location to contact their local police station.”
The kidnap episode has prompted the Medical Director of the FMC, Prof. Azubuike Onyebuchi, to express concern that the doctors’ service withdrawal will have a detrimental impact on medicare-seeking individuals, particularly low-income people who are unable to pay the bills charged by private hospitals and rely on FMC.
Onyebuchi asked the physicians to explore options for mitigating the negative consequences of this, while doing anything possible, including collaborating with security agencies and Iweha’s family to guarantee his release.