Iyienu Mission Hospital

Iyi-Enu Hospital located eight kilometers east of Onitsha along the Onitsha Enugu “Trunk A” road, Anambra state, Nigeria was esterblished in 1907 by the Church Missionary Society’s (CMS) Niger medical mission at Ozalla, Onitsha, where the Mission carried on the ministry of healing through tending the sick, the suffering and the dying . 



In an earlier study of Iyi-Enu Hospital (1907-1982), it was noted that the hospital had its early beginning in the Church Missionary Society’s (CMC) Niger Medical Mission at Ozalla, Onitsha, where the mission carried out a ministry of healing through tending the sick, the suffering and the dying (Dike Ibemesi, 1982).

About 1890, through the efforts of Rev. Henry Dobinson and his former vicar, the Rev. F. N. Eden, money was raised and medicines collected abroad, for the starting of a formal medical work among parishioners in and around Onitsha . This was the origin of the Niger Mission Medical Services.

In fact, Rev. Dobinson and another missionary, Rev. P. A. Benneth actually began dispensary work on a small scale in a dilapidated mud building built by the first Bishop of the Niger Territories, the Right Reverend Samuel Adjai Crowther, who had lived there himself. Not long afterwards, a nurse Miss Taylor joined the mission as the only medical staff. By 1893, another nurse, Miss Maxwell arrived to beef up the medical team.

Dispensaries were held twice a week, for several hours in the morning in a small shelter without walls. A somewhat better dispensary was erected in 1897. On the two dispensary days, patients began to arrive before 6.30am . Activities started with a short divine service and treatment given until 1.00pm . These clinics recorded up to 135 patients in the morning.

In 1897 Rev. Henry Dobinson (now an Archdeacon) suddenly died of dysentery while on a pastoral visit to Asaba, and in 1898, a fund was raised to erect a small hospital as a memorial to honour him. The Onitsha Medical Mission was put on top list of recognized medical missions of the CMS. As more funds were received, the hospital services improved. For instance in 1898 when Dr. Clayton was appointed to be in charge of the medical work, the old compound was transformed into a twelve bed medical centre with two of the bungalows as hospital wards one for men and the other for women. Dr. Clayton stayed for only two years, and Miss Maxwell also resigned about the same time.

However, the medical work was carried on by Miss Mary Elms, a Nursing Sister who had had her nursing training in Shefield England in both general and Midwifery. Miss Elms arrived Onitsha in September, 1901. There was a great need to finance the medical centre which was growing in lips and bounds. That necessitated the introduction of a small fee for treatment. Miss Elms thereafter started a very elementary training of a few non-literate Igbo girls as nurses. It was with these girls and one or two male assistants that Miss Elims carried on the tedious and over-demanding work at the medical centre.


By 1907, the services provided at the centre were found to be inadequate for the increasing work. Since there was no room for expansion, the centre was consequently transferred that same year to an old CMS Mission compound at Iyi-Enu, eight kilometers (five miles) east of Onitsha on the Onitsha/Enugu road (Dike Ibemesi, 1982,:3). The mission station there had been started about 1896/97 as a training college for boys-an embryo theological college, which was later moved in 1903 to the present site at St. Paul ‘s College, Awka.

It will be recalled that on the removal of the theological college, the mission compound had been occupied by the Onitsha Girl’s Boarding School, which was then transferred out from Onitsha . But soon the girl’s School, fast developing under the leadership of Miss Edith Warner, was offered still more suitable site, up on a hill in a secluded spot in Ogbunike called Ugwu—Ogba (Hill Cave), in 1906; and by now it was known as St. Monica’s School.

The following year, 1907, the medical centre at Onitsha moved in to occupy the CMS Mission Compound at Iyi-Enu vacated by St. Monica’s School. Necessary approval for the transfer was granted by the London Committee of the CMS and Dr. A.E. Druit who arrived the same year, was appointed on its present site, and continued its services straight away as a medical institution.

Initial Problems.

One of the initial problems the new hospital encountered at that time was the adaptation of the old school buildings to suit the needs of a hospital. To overcome this, new buildings were set up. For instance, the foundation stone of the new Dobinson Dispensary Block was laid in 1913 by the Governor General designate to Nigeria , Sir Frederick (later Lord) Lugard.

Apart from lack of suitable accommodation for in-patients and staff, other problems included shortage of staff, frequent leave of European staff due to ill-health, lack of fund, incessant shortage of medicines and other hospital materials. First World War and its attendant handicaps and the subsequent 1918 influenza epidemic.

First Operational Staff

The first operational staff of the hospital included

Miss Mary Elms, a Nursing Sister

Dr. and Mrs. A.E. Druit, Dr. Druit was initially occupied with building projects.

Dr. R.Y. Stones, s Surgeon sent by the CMS in 1912 to assist Dr. Druit.

Miss K. Beswick, a nurse and

A few Igbo dressers cum nurses-in-training who assisted Miss Elms in her nursing duties.


As the first hospital in Igboland, Iyi-Enu pioneered many important medical programmes, a few of which included:-

Maternal and child care for which the hospital dominated the scene for 60 years in this part of the country.

Eradication of yaws (Nkwuma in Igbo)

Establishment of village maternity homes which eventually developed into the Niger Diocesan Maternity service (DMS)

Traveling-doctor service, and

Systematic treatment of leprosy which led to the establishment of a leprosy settlement at Oji River

In fact, as a training school, Iyi-Enu was the first hospital in Nigeria to graduate midwives, and was one of the earliest to start the training of nurses. It is on record that one Miss Kemmer Fetepigi (now Mrs. Koripamo), a product of Iyi-Enu Hospital was the first registered midwife in Nigeria .

THE PERIOD 1982-2007

Exactly 25 years after Iyi-Enu Hospital celebrated its 75 years anniversary, the hospital has grown in leaps and bounds. In spite of the proliferation of hospitals and doctors clinics in and around Ogidi, Nkpor and Onitsha , Iyi-Enu Hospital is still putting more smiles on the faces of patients and people living in some parts of the former Anambra State (now Enugu and Anambra States ).

The hospital has maintained a class of medical excellence specializing in managing healthcare holistic challenges. For instance, the hospital has put in place various Ultra-modern equipment and services which could compete favourably with any specialist hospitals within Nigeria . These include the following:-

. Ultra Sound Machines, Dental, Intensive Care Units, X-Ray facilities

. Cold Chain Refrigerator (from Pathfinder)

. Specially equipped Ambulances donated by an NGO Max and Syl Foundation , California USA in 2005, run by Engr. And Tobby Onwunyi through their friends, Bob Ambulance services of USA .

. Computerized Pharmacy

. Internet and Electronic Library

. Ghain Project a bid to stem the rising profile of HIV/AIDS infection in Nigeria .

. Modern Mortuary facilities with trained Morticians (1999)

In addition of these, there are new building projects to enhance the standard of medicare services. Some of these are:

New Midwifery classroom block

New Building Complex for the School of Midwifery

Canteen facilities catering for in-patients and outsiders.

With all the growth and development culmination in the 100 years anniversary celebration of Iyi-Enu hospital, it is obvious that the hospital is living up to its motto “to preach and to heal”. It is true that in this day and age, there are falling standards in most spheres of human development including health, especially in the third world, but Iyi-Enu hospital is not just holding to its own but is actually raising standards, living the gospel and healing the sick. Today, the hospital can boast of some medical experts consulting in various key areas of medicine. The training of nurses and midwives is getting new and steady boost. Recent statistics from schools and midwifery speak for themselves in the charts @ Nursing & Patient Care during the last decade.

  Finally, the story of Iyi-Enu hospital is a story of success and God’s hand at work. For 100 years the hospital has carried out the task of preaching the word of God and healing the sick. From a make-shift health centre at Ozalla, Onitsha to its present site at Iyi-Enu, the hospital has served Nigerians mainly in the Eastern Nigeria , Midwest and the areas now called Benue State .

The areas formerly covered of Iyi-Enu Hospital have reduced greatly to core Igbo areas in Anambra State like Onitsha , Otuocha/Aguleri, Awka, Aguata, Ekwulobia, Nnewi and some parts of Ihiala Local Government areas.

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