World Doctors’ Day: In 15 Months, 19 Medical Doctors Were Killed Or Abducted In Nigeria

HumAngle can report that in the past 15 months, 19 medical doctors were either killed or kidnapped due to armed violence across Nigeria.

At least one doctor was reportedly either killed or abducted nearly every month from Jan. 2021 to March 2022 in Nigeria, analysis of media reports by HumAngle has shown. 

HumAngle can report that a total of 19 medical doctors were either killed or kidnapped due to armed violence across Nigeria in the past 15 months.

On Jan. 4, 2021, an armed group kidnapped a medical doctor, Akindele Kayode, at a health care centre overseen by him. His abduction happened during an attack in Ibarapa North Local Government Area (LGA) of Oyo State, Southwest Nigeria, where three others were reported killed.

This was followed by the murder of Dr Zechariah Dogonyaro, who was shot dead in the attack on Haske Baptist Church in Chikun LGA of Kaduna State on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2021. The doctor was a staff of the Kaduna State Ministry of Health attached to the primary healthcare centre in Chikun.

On April 4, 2021, the Ogun State Police command in Southwest Nigeria confirmed the abduction of one Dr Oladunni Odetola. Otedola was the head of General Hospital Imeko in the Imeko area of the state.  He and a colleague were said to have been ambushed and taken while driving along Abeokuta-Imeko road.

In Niger State, North-central Nigeriaan armed group shot a medical doctor named Dr Precious Chinedu Emeka on June 14, 2021. The medical practitioner was said to have been attacked by a group of five armed men while on duty at a private medical health facility he owned. 

Another medical doctor, Solomon Ndiamaka, who was kidnapped on July 19, 2021, was working with the general hospital Ugwolawo in Ofu LGA of Kogi State, North-central Nigeria. According to reports, Dr Ndiamaka was forcefully taken from the hospital at 8 a.m. by an armed gang.

In the same month, terrorists locally known as bandits stormed a general hospital within the Dansadau community in Maru LGA of Zamfara, Northwest Nigeria, looking for medical doctors and nurses, and abducted a health worker. 

This was followed by the murder of Dr Chike Akunyili by a suspected armed gang in Anambra State, Southeast Nigeria, on Sept. 26, 2021. Dr Akunyili, the husband of late Dora Akunyili, was shot dead while returning from Enugu State which is about 112 kilometres away from Anambra.  

Also, in the same Anambra State , Dr Lawrence Ezenwa was shot dead in Nnewi, a town in Nnewi North LGA, by an armed gang on Oct. 3 2021, while he was visiting the town. The medical doctor was the Managing Director of St. Saviour’s Hospital in Okija, also a town in Anambra.

In Cross River State in the South-South of Nigeria, police rescued a medical doctor, Edmund Akpaikpe who was kidnapped on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2021. The medical practitioner who works in Irua Specialist Hospital in Edo State was kidnapped in Bakassi LGA of Cross River while dropping off his housemaid. 

In Dec. 2021, two medical doctors were abducted and one was killed. 

On Dec. 9 Dr. Zubair Erubu was kidnapped in Kwara State, Northcentral Nigeria.  This was followed by the kidnap of Dr Saidu Bala after an armed gang attacked his hospital in Adamawa State, Northeast Nigeria on Dec. 10. 

A radiologist, Dr. Obialo Ibe was stabbed in his residence in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), on Dec. 16. His car and some of his belongings were stolen. 

2022 also started with the abduction of Dr. Samuel Audu who was taken on Jan. 9 by armed men after closing from work in Barikin Ladi LGA of Plateau State, Northcentral Nigeria. 

In Feb. 2022, one doctor was reportedly murdered and one was kidnapped. On Feb. 14, a medical doctor with the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) was shot dead by a suspected armed gang in his house in Benin, Edo State. This was followed by the kidnap of Dr Felix Ekpo after men carrying arms stormed the premises of Cottage Hospital in Mkpat Enin LGA of Akwa Ibom State also in the South-south region on Feb. 22. 

On March 15, the abduction of the only medical doctor working in Gubio Village in Borno State, Northeast Nigeria was reported. The doctor was abducted by suspected terrorists believed to be members of the Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP).

This was followed by the demise of Dr. Chinelo Megafu who was shot during the Abuja-Kaduna train attack carried by terrorists  on March 28, 2022. 

World doctors’ day

World Doctors’ Day was celebrated on Wednesday, March 30, 2022, to commemorate physicians who help save lives, however, in Nigeria, insecurity is one of the reasons why doctors are emigrating to foreign countries.

This was revealed by Innocent Ujah, the president of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), in an interview with Channels TV. He added that, “Many of our doctors are abducted and kidnapped; once there is insecurity in the land as it is, it becomes very difficult for people to stay.” 

This has affected the patient to doctor ratio as it is currently at four doctors to 10,000 patients. Which is far from the WHO’s recommendation of the 1:600 standard.

The association has also urged the government to check the rising insecurity as it was impacting the health sector in the  form of brain drain, and ineffective funding through overriding defence budgets at the expense of effective healthcare interventions. 

Other factors that affect medical practitioners in Nigeria are irregular pay, lack of insurance benefits to families of doctors who die in the course of work and ill-equipped health facilities.

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Zubaida Baba Ibrahim

Zubaida Baba Ibrahim is a journalist and a creative writer. Her works have been featured on Daily Trust, Premium Times and Guardian. She also has experience in broadcast journalism and is a graduate of Mass Communication from Baze University, Abuja. She tweets through @zvbaida

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