Seventh-day Adventist Hospital and Motherless Babies’ Home, Aba.

By Uchechukwu O. Elekwa

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Uchechukwu O. Elekwa

Seventh-day Adventist Hospital and Motherless Babies’ Home, Aba was established in 1984. It is located in Ogbor Hill, Aba, Abia State, Nigeria, and is overseen by Eastern Nigeria Union Conference.

Developments that Led to Establishment of the Institution

The Adventist message came to Nigeria through Elder David C. Babcock, who arrived in the country on March 7, 1914, and began working in Erunmu, near Ibadan, in Oyo State.1 Pastor and Mrs. Jersey Clifford came to Eastern Nigeria in April 1923 to begin the Adventist work in Umuola, in the Ogbor Hill area of Aba. They came as workers from the then Nigerian Union of Seventh-day Adventists, which had its headquarters in Ibadan, Nigeria. Pastor Jesse and his wife made regular visits to different people in the area, and gained their trust through Bible studies and the distribution of tracts.2 Through these actions, they established the work in Umuola, Aba, which subsequently became the headquarters of the church in East Nigeria.3

On June 13, 1977, the Executive Committee of the East Nigeria Conference took an action to start an orphanage home, which officially opened on July 29, 1977.4 Pastor H.I.C. Oriaku became director of the home. On November 3, 1977, the committee voted to appoint Pastor I.W. Alala as his assistant.5

Having lost its medical institutions to the government after the Nigeria civil war (Ahoada County Hospital, June 1972,6 and Okpualangwa Mission Hospital, November 19727), the leadership of the church in Eastern Nigeria, led by Pastor Z. N. Imo, nurtured the idea of a health care facility to serve the health needs of church members, as well as other surrounding communities. In 1979 the Executive Committee of East Nigeria Conference, led by Pastor Isaac Nwobia, proposed the establishment of Aba Health Centre. This proposal was conveyed to the higher church authorities, Nigerian Union Mission and Northern European West Africa Division, which supported it greatly. A location was chosen opposite the conference headquarters, in the same environment with the already established motherless babies’ home. It was suitable for the project because of its proximity to the headquarters, the availability of land, and the suburban nature of the area.8

Founding of the Institution

Available records indicate that following the decision to establish the health center, a request for financial aid was made to the Swedish International Development Agency for the building of the Aba Health Centre. At the ENC Executive Committee held July 24, 1979, the committee voted to record their happiness and gratitude for the approval of this request.9 The Northern European West African Division Executive Committee voted on January 9, 1980, to record that the financial aid would provide 80 percent of the construction cost, while the conference would meet the remaining 20 percent.10

On March 26, 1980, the division executive committee approved the recommendation of the Nigerian Union regarding the local building committee of the Aba Health Project. The members were Helge Andersen, Chairman, Isaac Nwobia, Joshua Nnaji, Olavi Kari-Koskinen. Vigdis Olderbraton was appointed as special project secretary and accountant.11 The following were members of Aba Health Centre Executive Committee: H. Andersen (Chairman), O. Jordal, I. Nwobia, S.B. Johansen, M.N. Olukaikpe, U. Nnaji, Tore Olderbraten, J. I. Nnaji.12

Construction of the health center concluded in 1983,13 and the center was dedicated on March 25, 198414. The center was formally commissioned by the government on April 30, 1984.

Dr. Ejike N. Nzotta was called upon to help start up the Health Center. In his words, “I was asked to come and start the clinic as the ENC administration was awaiting the arrival of Dr. Nathaniel P. Mosqueda, a missionary physician that has been called to come and oversee the affairs of the facility. Dr R.N. Ubani-Ukoma approached me after I lost my job in a private clinic and asked of my willingness and readiness to work for the church. I told him that I am willing to do the work. Everything was already on ground when the key of the center was handed over to me; I unlocked the key at the gate on Sunday, May 13, 1984. Subsequently I had to work with the conference administration to get other workers.”15

The pioneer staff assumed duty May 21, 1984. They opened up the buildings and cleaned the facilities before being assigned their respective duties. The first surgery was performed May 22, 1984, an emergency situation involving a patient with strangulated hernia. Later on the same day, hospital staff delivered a baby, and these were sufficient testimonies for the church members and local community to know that the health center has started in earnest.16

On its inception, the facility was recognized by the government as a health center. The operating body of the health center was the Adventist Health Service Board of the Nigerian Union Mission, which was constituted as follows: H. Andersen, Chairman; O. Kari-Koskinen, secretary; NUM secretary; NUM treasurer; Inisha Medical Centre Medical director; West Nigeria Mission President; North Nigeria Mission President; East Nigeria Conference President; L. Clemonds and J. Olarogun.17 Direct oversight of the facility was performed by the Executive committee of the East Nigeria Conference, led by President Isaac Nwobia. Other members of the committee were M. U. Mmagu, A. C. Ohuonu, S. A. Chionye, E. I. Nwaji, Dr. I. A. Nwachukwu, S. U. Nnaji, R. N. Otuleme, C. N. Okeke, I. A. Ekpendu, and P. U. Chigbu.18 Dr. E.N. Nzotta was the pioneer physician, and served as acting Medical Director until the arrival of Dr. Nathaniel P. Mosqueda in 1985. Both physicians were joined later in 1985 by Dr. Emmanel E. Enyinna, who was earlier sent by the Northern European West Africa Division to the health center after his graduation from Ruprecht-Karlx University, Heidelberg, Germany in 1983, but had to work at the Aba General Hospital for his internship as recommended by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria to be able to get full registration to practice in Nigeria.19 Other leaders in the health center were Thomas Chukwu, treasurer, and Marbel Obinna Njoku, matron. Other pioneer workers included Chijioke Josiah, Silas Ironanya, Mathias Ogbonna, Jonah Ibiam, Elizabeth Agomuo, Jane Anusionu, Lovina Okegbe, Chinyere Iheonunekwu, Georginia Ogbonna, Adanma Nwogu, and Joshua Nwachukwu.20 Pastor I. O. Onyerionwu was appointed chaplain on January 22, 1986.21

History of the Institution

The facility started with 16 beds, three buildings used for wards, delivery rooms, operating theater, consulting rooms, and offices. Treatments offered were general medicine, pediatrics, surgery, and obstetrics. In 1991 a pediatric ward was built. This increased the number of beds to 28.22

In 1994 the facility was upgraded from a health center (primary health care – Aba Health Centre) to a hospital (secondary health care – Seventh-day Adventist Hospital), increasing the number of beds to 80. This was spearheaded by the administration led by Dr E. E. Enyinna as the Medical director; Elder Dan Nwankwo, treasurer; and Major C. K. Ubani, director of Nurses Services.23

The hospital’s main source of income has been from internally generated revenue. However, there was support from 2000 to 2010 from Adventist Health International (AHI) while the hospital was under her board. Other partners existed, such as the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, and the Christian Health Association of Nigeria, which provided drugs at subsidized rates, and organized seminars and capacity development meetings. Through the support of AHI, in 2007 the hospital was able to build private wards, consisting of seven rooms.24

Currently, the institution is in partnership with Abia State National Action for Control of AIDS (Abia NACA), the National Control for Prevention of Tuberculosis, the Society for Family Health, and Population Service International. The North American Council of East Nigeria Adventists has collaborated with the hospital annually since October 2015 to provide free medical care and surgeries to members of the Eastern Nigeria Union Conference and non-Seventh-day Adventists within the region. They donated an operating ophthalmic microscope to the hospital during the outreach that lasted from October 10 – 14, 2016, as well as other medical equipment.

Over the years the facility has been a place of refuge for the sick. Medical services offered throughout the years include: General outpatient clinic; Accident and emergency; General Medicine; Surgery; Obstetrics and Gynecology; Pediatrics; Ante-natal/Post-natal clinics; Maternal/Child Welfare; Reproductive Health (Family Planning); Laboratory; Immunization; X-ray/Ultrasonography; Eye Clinic; Comprehensive HIV/AIDS program (Screening, Counseling & treatment); Post-Abortion Care; Tuberculosis Counseling, Screening, and Treatment Scheme.

Awards and Honors

On August 4, 2009, the hospital received an award as a community health friendly hospital by the National Association of Community Health Students, School of Health and Technology, Aba.

Significant Era

The hospital experienced a challenging era between the years 1999 and 2005, when the then Medical director, Dr. E. E. Enyinna, left for Babcock University Medical Center. The period witnessed high turnover of physicians, as they were not comfortable with the salary and condition of service. The hospital had to invite doctors from other health facilities on consult as there were no resident doctors.25

In 2005, Dr. Emmanuel E. Enyinna returned to the facility after his sojourn at Babcock University. He is noted as the physician with the most years of service for the institution, and also served the longest as medical director. He dedicated his career to the service of the church, even at a time when other physicians were reluctant to work for the church as they observed the remuneration was far less than that obtainable in government and private health facilities. He retired from the hospital on November 30, 2014.

Schools Associated with the Institution

The hospital has ties with some secondary and tertiary educational facilities within the state. The secondary facilities are mainly institutions belonging to the church, including Adventist Secondary Technical College, Owerrinta. Students from the school infirmary are referred to the hospital for health conditions that cannot be handled there; students from Adventist Technical High School, Aba also get their medical care in the facility. The tertiary schools associated with the hospital usually send their students through the years for medical postings. They include Abia State College of Health Sciences and Management Technology, School of Midwifery Abia State University Teaching Hospital, and the Department of Nursing Sciences at Abia State University Teaching Hospital.

The institution has a healthy relationship with other church entities. A cordial relationship exists between the institution and the community. The hospital is registered with the State Ministry of Health.

Outlook

The hospital’s evangelistic mission has never waned over the years. Patients have accepted Christ while in the hospital, and non-Adventist staff have received the Adventist message and joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The institution was among the leading health facilities in its early years, because it had the necessary equipment to withstand competitions from other private/mission hospitals in Aba. However, presently there is a need to upgrade the equipment in the facility to stay current and competitive, as this will help it attract more patients, especially the elite class. The core mission of the hospital is to meet the health needs of the populace where it is situated, so referring patients due to unavailability of modern medical equipment negates this mission.

Official Names

Aba Health Center (1984–1994); Seventh-day Adventist Hospital, Aba (1994–2019)

Important Leadership Tenures

Medical Directors

Dr. Ejikeme N. Nzotta, acting (1984-1985); Dr. Nathaniel P. Mosqueda, (1985-1990); Dr. Emmanuel. E. Enyinna (1991-1999); Dr. Peter Oprey, acting (August 1999-2000); Dr. Nwankwo, acting (2000-2002); Dr. Osasa, acting (2002-2003); Dr. Emmanuel. E. Enyinna, (2005-2014); Dr. Uchechukwu O. Elekwa, (2014-).

Treasurers

Thomas Chukwu (1984-1985); John Onuoha (1985-1990); Dan Nwankwo (1990-1999); Ogbonna (1999-2000); F. U. Juongwa (2000-January 2011); U. C. Okezie (February 2011-February 2019); Ugochukwu Aham Okporkiri (2019-).

Directors of Nursing Services

Marbel Obinna Njoku, matron (1984-1985); Shola Evulukwu, acting matron (1985-1986); Nnamdi Oriaku, acting matron (1986-1987); C. K. Ubani (1991-2002); Maria Alozie (2003-December 2008); Enobong B. Udoh (January 2009-2011); Gloria E. Nlemadim (2011-).

Sources

East Nigeria Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (Aba). Minutes of Meetings of the East Nigeria Conference Executive Committee, June 13, 1977; November 3, 1977; July 24, 1979; March 5, 1982; February 12-13, 1984; August 11, 1985; January 22, 1986.

Izima, D. (ed). A Brief History of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Eastern States of Nigeria. Aba: Maranatha Printing Press, 1973.

Nigerian Union Mission of Seventh-day Adventists (ASWA, Ilishan Remo). Minutes of Meetings of the Nigerian Union Mission Executive Committee, April 19, 1981.

Northern European West Africa Division of Seventh-day Adventists (St. Albans, Herts). Minutes of Meetings of the Northern European West Africa Division Executive Committee, January 9, 1980 and March 26, 1980.

Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. Second revised edition. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1996.

Notes

  1. Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia (1996), 181.

  2. D. Izima, A Brief History of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Eastern States of Nigeria (Aba: Maranatha Printing Press, 1973),11.

  3. Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia (1996), 181.

  4. East Nigeria Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (Aba), Minutes of Meetings of the East Nigeria Conference Executive Committee, June 13, 1977.

  5. East Nigeria Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (Aba), Minutes of Meetings of the East Nigeria Conference Executive Committee, November 3, 1977.

  6. Izima, 33.

  7. Ibid., 33, 34.

  8. Emmanuel E. Enyinna, interview by Uchechukwu O. Elekwa, Aba, July 1, 2019.

  9. East Nigeria Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (Aba), Minutes of Meetings of the East Nigeria Conference Executive Committee, 24th July 1979.

  10. Northern European West Africa Division of Seventh-day Adventists (St. Albans, Herts), Minutes of Meetings of the Northern European West Africa Division Executive Committee, January 9, 1980.

  11. Northern European West Africa Division of Seventh-day Adventists (St. Albans, Herts), Minutes of Meetings of the Northern European West Africa Division Executive Committee, March 26, 1980.

  12. East Nigeria Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (Aba), Minutes of Meetings of the East Nigeria Conference Executive Committee for Aba Health Centre, March 5, 1982.

  13. Chijioke Joshua, interview by Uchechukwu O. Elekwa, Aba, July 1, 2019.

  14. East Nigeria Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (Aba), Minutes of Meetings of the East Nigeria Conference Executive Committee, February 12-13, 1984.

  15. Ejike N. Nzotta, interview by Uchechukwu O. Elekwa, Aba, June 27, 2019.

  16. Chijioke Joshua, interview by Uchechukwu O. Elekwa, Aba, July 1, 2019.

  17. Nigerian Union Mission of Seventh-day Adventists (ASWA, Ileshan), Minutes of Meetings of the Nigerian Union Mission Executive Committee, April 19, 1981.

  18. East Nigeria Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (Aba), Minutes of Meetings of the East Nigeria Conference Executive Committee, August 11, 1985.

  19. Emmanuel E. Enyinna, interview by Uchechukwu O. Elekwa, Aba, July 1, 2019.

  20. Chijioke Joshua, interview by Uchechukwu O. Elekwa, Aba, July 1, 2019.

  21. East Nigeria Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (Aba), Minutes of Meetings of the East Nigeria Conference Executive Committee, January 22, 1986.

  22. Emmanuel E. Enyinna, interview by Uchechukwu O. Elekwa, Aba, July 1, 2019.

  23. Ibid.

  24. Festus U. Juongwa, interview by Uchechukwu O. Elekwa, Aba, June 30, 2019.

  25. Ibid.

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Elekwa, Uchechukwu O. "Seventh-day Adventist Hospital and Motherless Babies’ Home, Aba.." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. May 10, 2021. Accessed October 15, 2021. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9B8B.

Elekwa, Uchechukwu O. "Seventh-day Adventist Hospital and Motherless Babies’ Home, Aba.." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. May 10, 2021. Date of access October 15, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9B8B.

Elekwa, Uchechukwu O. (2021, May 10). Seventh-day Adventist Hospital and Motherless Babies’ Home, Aba.. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved October 15, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9B8B.