By Chidi Nkwopara
OWERRI—Activities have ground to a halt in all public hospitals, clinics and health centres in Imo State, following the two-day total strike ordered by the state branch of Nigerian Medical Association, NMA.
The NMA leadership directed its members to down tools to protest what it called growing insecurity and its attendant incidents of kidnapping of doctors in the state.
The aggrieved doctors explained that the present strike was particularly linked to the damnable kidnap of the immediate past Commissioner for Health, Dr. Vin Udokwu, while attending to patients in his private clinic, Udokwu Memorial Hospital, Amaifeke, Orlu, last week.
When Vanguard visited some of the public health institutions in the state Tuesday morning, scores of very sick patients were seen groaning in pain, while no doctor was available to attend to them.
In all the hospitals visited, only nurses and midwives were seen attending to patients and pregnant women, who thronged the hospitals for medical attention.
A Consultant Family Physician at the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, Dr. Azu Dialu, confirmed that there was skeletal service in the establishment, stressing that it was in full compliance with the NMA directive.
Noting that the Accident and Emergency Unit of the hospital would remain open, Dr. Dialu, however, lamented that about six doctors had been kidnapped in recent times in Imo State.
Earlier in a press conference, the Chairman, Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria, AGPMPN, Dr. Philip C. Njemanze, warned his members to “strictly comply with the directive to shut down their establishments.
“The public is hereby advised to make alternative out-of-state arrangements for medical services. It is regrettable that doctors are kidnapped with ease by hoodlums.”