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Kidnapping, poor pay, others drive doctors out of UCTH

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No fewer than 50 doctors have left the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) in Cross River State for greener pastures abroad due to frustration from incessant kidnappings, poor infrastructure, electricity, remuneration and other challenges.

In the last two years, over 18 doctors have been kidnapped and each time that happened, the state branch of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) would embark on strike, thereby paralysing activities at the UCTH.

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The Guardian observed that the hospital lacked infrastructure, steady electricity, finances and other critical needs that enable such institutions to function maximally, as a centre of excellence and reference hospital.

Sources at UCTH said: “Due to incessant kidnapping, poor medical facilities, poor remuneration the University of Calabar has lost over 50 doctors, who have migrated to the United Kingdom (UK), Canada and other countries for training programmes.

“In the past year, the hospital has suffered not less than five different strike actions in protest against the frequent kidnapping of their colleagues by kidnappers. The latest abduction was of one Dr. Vincent Maduka at Etta Agbor last Thursday.”

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It was also learnt that the UCTH could not carry out any operations as and when due, because some machines could not be operated due to lack of power.

A visit to the UCTH showed that patients have deserted the hospital, as doctors were absent, while some patients who manage to patronise the hospital could not afford their medical bills and in some cases, some of the patients run away after treatment or operation.

Another challenge is that its oxygen plant often breaks down. The last time it broke down, it was fixed with N15m, but it has broken down again.

Efforts to contact the Chief Medical Director (CMD), Prof. Ikpeme Ikpeme for his reaction failed as he did not make calls to his telephone, but Chairman of NMA, Dr. Innocent Abang, yesterday, confirmed that a combined team of security personnel rescued their kidnapped colleague.

Abang also confirmed that doctors were leaving the UCTH in their droves, as “people are living with so much uncertainty and many have relocated. One of the consultants who came from the West and is working with us told me that he was trying to get a job and get out of here.”

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