UCH @ Inception
In preparation for self governance or independence in countries colonized by the British Empire in the West African coast, the colonial masters believed that the establishment of tertiary (higher) educational institutions would produce citizens with the educational and administrative capabilities for the new governments that would emerge. Therefore, at the instance of the British Secretary of States for the colonies, a Ten Year Plan of Development and Welfare was put in place by the British Government to rehabilitate its colonies after the devastation, decay and economic depression in the colonies during and after the Second World War. It is in line with these plans of the British Government that the Sir Walter Elliot’s commission was established in June 1943 with 14 members. The mandate of this Conservative MP led commission was to report on the state of higher education in the colonies as well as outline the organization of these institutions. Of these fourteen members, three (3) were from the West African colonies; Reverend I. O. Ransome-Kuti representing Nigeria, K. A. Korsah representing the Gold Coast (Ghana) and E. H. Taylor representing Sierra Leone.
To complement the efforts of the Elliot’s commission, another 11-member commission led by Mr. Justice Cyril Asquith was established in August 1943 to determine the principles that will govern these higher educational institutions to be established. The two commissions submitted complementary reports in 1945 with a proviso by the Asquith commission for the inauguration of an Inter-University Council that will act as a forum for the exchange of ideas and probably information between the representatives from the established British universities and the proposed or new colonial universities.
Following the submissions of their reports (Elliot’s and Asquith’s), the University College Ibadan was established on 17th November 1948 with three founding faculties; Arts, Science and Medicine. It is on record that the inclusion of a medical school in the University College to be established in Ibadan was part of the recommendations of the Elliot’s commission presented to parliament in 1945. Dr. Kenneth Mellanby was named the Principal-Designate of the new University College in May 1947 but he resumed work in July 1947. One of the mandates of Dr. Mellanby was to coordinate the planning of the site and buildings of the college including the medical school.
The new faculty of medicine was linked to the academic unit of the University of London ab initio to enable the Ibadan graduates obtain the bachelor of medicine and bachelor of surgery (MBBS) degree of the University of London. However, the initial challenges that confronted the new faculty of medicine was the non availability of a suitable hospital comparable to the teaching hospitals of the London universities that will provide clinical training for the medical students. On account of this glaring reality, the Inter-University Council was sent to London to discuss with the London Universities to make arrangements for placing Ibadan medical students who on completion of the basic medical studies had to relocate to London to complete their clinical training in the British medical schools and this was before the construction of a suitable teaching hospital in Ibadan.
The use of the buildings of the 56th Military Hospital in Eleyele as the teaching hospital of the new medical school whilst awaiting the construction of a new hospital at the permanent site of the University College situated along Oyo Road (present location of the University of Ibadan) was rejected outrightly.
Dr. Samuel Manuwa then offered the much improve Adeoyo Hospital to be used as the teaching hospital for the new faculty of medicine but not without the insistence of the natives on the signing of a pact between the University College Ibadan (UCI) led by the Principal Dr. Kenneth Mellanby and the Ibadan Native Administration (INA) whose leaders (high chiefs) had expressed fears of their corpses being used as cadavers for dissection by the medical students. The agreement reached in 1948 between the UCI and INA had the following terms;
For the next six years (1948 to 1954) Dr. Samuel Manuwa worked tirelessly to improve service delivery at the Adeoyo and Jericho hospitals whittling down corruption and indiscipline. The University College Ibadan upgraded the Adeoyo hospital by adding fifty more beds to the existing ones, along with a new laboratory, an X-ray annex and two private wings and later added the mortuary, maternity block, medical lecture rooms, waiting rooms for clinics while the gyneacology and physiotherapy departments were refurbished.
Representatives of the London University led by Dr. T. C. Hunt, DM, FRCP, a member of the Faculty of Medicine of University of London came on a visit to Ibadan in 1950 and again in 1951-1952 academic session to evaluate the suitability of the Ibadan hospitals as teaching hospitals for the training of medical students intending to obtain the degrees of the London University. The visitation team found the Ibadan hospitals unsuitable despite the vast infrastructure and improved services at Adeoyo hospital and ultimately recommended the construction of a brand new and more modern teaching hospital of comparable standard with teaching hospitals in London.
In line with this recommendation of the visitation team from London, Sir Sydney Phillipson, Chairman of the Governing Council of the University College Ibadan in a nation wide broadcast in 1952 urged the Central (Federal) government to build a modern teaching hospital in Ibadan for the training of medical doctors. It was also agreed that whilst the teaching hospital was being built, clinical care and technical sessions including physiotherapy services, radiography and pharmacy would be provided by the expanding facilities at the Adeoyo Hospital.
The proposed Teaching Hospital was billed to be an 800-bedded, complex with eight floors so that it could be ‘striking’ as this will put the hospital at par with the University College Hospital, London. In actual fact, the original construction plan of the University College Ibadan included the Medical School and the Teaching Hospital. However, this laudable idea of an imposing teaching hospital was opposed by the Faculty of Medicine because of the attendant problems with high-rise buildings. In addition, locating the hospital within the University College premises was viewed as an attempt to remove the teaching hospital far away from the center of the city of Ibadan where most of the patients reside.
However, it was suggested that all of these grandiose ideas about a strikingly tall and elegant teaching hospital were to be shelved when during his repeated visits to the colonial office in London (1949 and 1952), the principal of the University College, Dr. Kenneth Mellanby discovered that there was no fund earmarked by the British government for the construction of the proposed teaching hospital that will provide clinical training for the medical students of the Faculty of Medicine. The colonial office in London opined that the Nigerian government should source for funds to build a teaching hospital for her medical students and that instead of high-rise buildings, multiple bungalows would be appropriate. To add more twist to the story, the idea of construction of bungalows was discarded as the bungalows would not measure up to the standard of the University College Hospital, London after which the new hospital was to be tailored.
In her response, the Nigerian House of Representatives sitting in Lagos in August 1952 passed an Ordinance the UCH Ordinance which established a University College Hospital for the University College Ibadan. Funds were released by the Central government through the persuasive, persistent and witty efforts of the then Central Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola. The funds were released in quantum starting with one million, five hundred thousand pound sterling (£1.5) and the pattern of release led to the project being labeled ‘the million dollar baby which was always crying for money’.
The initial design of the new teaching hospital by Mr. Alexander Gray, F.R.I.B.A the Consulting Architect was for a 493 bedded hospital comprising of six main blocks made up of a central area and wings. The suggested bed allocations included; 146 for the professorial unit and medical wards on the second floor, 144 for the professorial units and wards for surgical cases on the first floor, 109 for the professorial units and wards for Obstetrics and Gyneacology cases on the fourth floor and 68 for professorial units and wards for Paediatric cases on the third floor.
On 1st October 1953, the first sod signifying the commencement of the construction of the central or main block of the University College Hospital, Ibadan was cut by the Chairman of the Board of the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Sir Syndey Phillipson although the official foundation stone laying ceremony took place on 18 November 1954 and this was performed by Sir John Macpherson the first Governor-General of the new Federation of Nigeria.