The Ibom Specialist Hospital in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, has been shut down, just two years after it was built and commissioned by the administration of former governor Godswill Akpabio due to lack of funding by the state government . Almost all the health workers in the hospital were foreigners, mostly from India. Mr. Akpabio had boasted that the hospital, which he described as ‘world class’, was better equipped and higher in status than university teaching hospitals in Nigeria, and that it was going to promote medical tourism in the country.
The multi-million dollar hospital was shut down in September after its private managers terminated their contract with the state government and withdrew from the facility. When Press visited the hospital , the facility was locked down; apart from the security officials, not a single person was inside its massive buildings. Some persons who had worked in the hospital told the press that the private managers – Cardiocare Medical Services Ltd – left because of unresolved issues bordering on funding by the state government. The Commissioner for Health in the state, Dominic Ukpong, confirmed on Wednesday to this newspaper that the hospital has been closed down. Mr. Ukpong, a medical doctor, admitted that there was a disagreement between the state government and Cardiocare Ltd over the funding of the Ibom Specialist Hospital. But he also accused Cardiocare of poor management of the facility. “The administration of the hospital, in my opinion, has not been satisfactory,” Mr. Ukpong said “Their excuses have been that government didn’t meet its own part of the obligation. But I am a witness to the huge amount of money the government has given to the service provider to run the hospital. And we haven’t had much to show for it,” the health commissioner said. He said money was released at various times for the running of the hospital, besides the $5 million start-off fund the state government gave to Cardiocare Ltd. The hospital could not get its electric power from the power company since it was not connected to the national grid. Mr. Ukpong said: “Apart from the fact that the state government was giving diesel free to their quarters, I remember that at some point the state government gave N250 million to them (Cardiocare), at their request, which they said they wanted to use to pay salaries. “As soon as they were given the money they came and said that that was for arrears. They came back for more money. “The state government has given them N50 million, also on request. “They asked that the government should be paying them N30 million monthly for them to pay salaries to some consultants, especially the neurosurgeon. We gave them the money.” Mr. Ukpong said that the former governor, Mr. Akpabio, who is the Senate Minority Leader, intervened around June and mediated in a meeting between the state government and Cardiocare. Cardiocare, Mr. Ukpong said, did not honour any of the agreement reached at the meeting, among which was that the company should present to the state government a price-list of the services the hospital was rendering. “You know people were complaining about the high cost of getting medical services there, and we wanted to make sure that our people had access to the medical care offered in the facility,” he said.