Health in Nigeria

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Healthcare provision in Nigeria is a concurrent responsibility of the three tiers of government in the country.[1] Private providers of healthcare have a visible role to play in health care delivery.

Health infrastructure[edit]

The federal government's role is mostly limited to coordinating the affairs of the university teaching hospitals, Federal Medical Centres (tertiary healthcare) while the state government manages the various general hospitals (secondary healthcare) and the local government focus on dispensaries (primary healthcare),[2] which are regulated by the federal government through the NPHCDA.

The total expenditure on healthcare as % of GDP is 4.6, while the percentage of federal government expenditure on healthcare is about 1.5%.[3] A long run indicator of the ability of the country to provide food sustenance and avoid malnutrition is the rate of growth of per capita food production; from 1970–1990, the rate for Nigeria was 0.25%.[4] Though small, the positive rate of per capita may be due to Nigeria's importation of food products.

Health insurance[edit]

Historically, health insurance in Nigeria can be applied to a few instances: free health care provided and financed for all citizens, health care provided by government through a special health insurance scheme for government employees and private firms entering contracts with private health care providers.[5] However, there are few people who fall within the three instances.

In May 1999, the government created the National Health Insurance Scheme, the scheme encompasses government employees, the organized private sector and the informal sector. Legislative wise, the scheme also covers children under five, permanently disabled persons and prison inmates. In 2004, the administration of Obasanjo further gave more legislative powers to the scheme with positive amendments to the original 1999 legislative act.[6]

Cancer care[edit]

A new bone marrow donor program, the second in Africa, opened in 2012.[7] In cooperation with the University of Nigeria, it collects DNA swabs from people who might want to help a person with leukemia, lymphoma, or sickle cell disease to find a compatible donor for a life-saving bone marrow transplant. It hopes to expand to include cord blood donations in the future.[7]

Mental health[edit]

The majority of mental health services is provided by 8 regional psychiatric centers and psychiatric departments and medical schools of 12 major universities. A few general hospitals also provide mental health services. The formal centres often face competition from native herbalists and faith healing centres.

The ratio of psychologists and social workers is 0.02 to 100,000.[8]

Water supply and sanitation[edit]

Access to an improved water source stagnated at 47% of the population from 1990 to 2006, then increased to 54% in 2010. In urban areas access decreased from 80% to 65% in 2006, and then recovered to 74% in 2010.[9]

Adequate sanitation is typically in the form of septic tanks, as there is no central sewerage system, except for Abuja and some areas of Lagos.[10] A 2006 study estimated that only 1% of Lagos households were connected to general sewers.[11]


Regulation of pharmaceuticals[edit]

In 1989 legislation made effective a list of essential drugs. The regulation was also meant to limit the manufacture and import of fake or sub-standard drugs and to curtail false advertising. However, the section on essential drugs was later amended.[12]

Drug quality is primarily controlled by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). Several major regulatory failures have produced international scandals:

  • In 1993, adulterated paracetamol syrup entered into the healthcare system in Oyo and Benue State, the end result of was the death of 100 children. A year after the disaster, batches containing poisonous ethylene glycol, the major cause of the deaths, could still be purchased.
  • In 1996, about 11 children died of contamination from an experimental trial of the drug trovafloxacin.
  • In 2008-2009, at least 84 children died from a brand of contaminated teething medication.[13]

Geographic inequality[edit]

Healthcare in Nigeria is influenced by different local and regional factors that impacts the quality or quantity present in one location. Due to the aforementioned, the healthcare system in Nigeria has shown spatial variation in terms of availability and quality of facilities in relation to need. However, this is largely as a result of the level of state and local government involvement and investment in health care programs and education. Also, the Nigerian ministry of health usually spend about 70% of its budget in urban areas where around 50% of the population resides.[14]

Emigration of healthcare workers[edit]

Retaining health care professionals is an important objective

Migration of health care personnel to other countries is a tasking and relevant issue in the health care system of the country. From a supply push factor, a resulting rise in exodus of nurses may be due to dramatic factors that make the work unbearable and knowing and presenting changes to arrest the factors may stem a tide.[15]

Because a large number of nurses and doctors migrating abroad benefited from government funds for education, it poses a challenge to the patriotic identity of citizens and also the rate of return of federal funding of health care education. The state of healthcare in Nigeria has been worsened by a physician shortage as a consequence of severe 'brain drain'.

Many Nigerian doctors have emigrated to North America and Europe. In 2005, 2,392 Nigeria doctors were practising in the US alone, in UK number was 1,529. Retaining these expensively trained professionals has been identified as an urgent goal. It should be noted that the Brain drain cut across all healthcare Professionals, thousands of Nigerian Pharmacists and Nurses are practising in the UK and USA as well and so on.

Commercialisation of public health service delivery[edit]

Empirical evidences reveal negative impact of commercialisation of public health service delivery on attainment of the MDGs in Nigeria.[16]

Health status[edit]

Life expectancy[edit]

The 2014 CIA estimated average life expectancy in Nigeria was 52.62 years.[17]


Further information: HIV/AIDS in Nigeria

As of 2014 in Nigeria, the HIV prevalence rate among adults ages 15–49[18] was 3.17 percent.[19] The prevalence of HIV in Nigeria varies widely by region. In some states, the epidemic is more concentrated and driven by high-risk behaviors, while other states have more generalized epidemics that are sustained primarily by multiple sexual partnerships in the general population. Youth and young adults in Nigeria are particularly vulnerable to HIV, with young women at higher risk than young men.[20]

There are many risk factors that contribute to the spread of HIV, including prostitution, high-risk practices among itinerant workers, high prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STI), clandestine high-risk heterosexual and homosexual practices, international trafficking of women, and irregular blood screening.[20]


As of 2012 in Nigeria, the malaria prevalence rate was 11 percent.[21][22] A part of this data is from the President's Malaria Initiative which identifies Nigeria as a high-burden country.[23] Nigeria's branch dealing with this problem, the National Malaria Control Program, has recognized the problem and has embraced the World Malaria Day theme of "End Malaria for Good." [24]

Endemic diseases[edit]

In 1985, an incidence of yellow fever devastated a town in Nigeria, leading to the death of 1000 people. In a span of 5 years, the epidemic grew, with a resulting rise in mortality. The vaccine for yellow fever has been in existence since the 1930s.[25]

Maternal and child healthcare[edit]

The 2010 maternal mortality rate per 100,000 births for Nigeria was 840. This is compared with 608.3 in 2008 and 473.4 in 1990. The under 5 mortality rate, per 1,000 births is 143 and the neonatal mortality as a percentage of under 5's mortality is 28.[citation needed] In Nigeria the lifetime risk of death for pregnant women 1 in 23.[26] Nigeria’s abortion laws make it one of the most restrictive countries regarding abortion.[27]


Traffic congestion in Lagos, environmental pollution and noise pollution are major health issues.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rais Akhtar; Health Care Patterns and Planning in Developing Countries, Greenwood Press, 1991. pp 264
  2. ^ "Federal Medical Centre Abeokuta: A Case Study in Hospital Management pp 1". docstoc. Retrieved 13 June 2011. 
  3. ^ Ronald J. Vogel; Financing Health Care in Sub-Saharan Africa Greenwood Press, 1993. pp 18
  4. ^ Ronald J. Vogel; Financing Health Care in Sub-Saharan Africa Greenwood Press, 1993. pp 1-18
  5. ^ Ronald J. Vogel; Financing Health Care in Sub-Saharan Africa Greenwood Press, 1993. pp 101-102
  6. ^ Felicia Monye; 'An Appraisal of the National Health Insurance Scheme of Nigeria', Commonwealth Law Bulletin, 32:3 415-427
  7. ^ a b McNeil, Donald (11 May 2012). "Finding a Match, and a Mission: Helping Blacks Survive Cancer". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 May 2012. 
  8. ^ Oyedeji Ayonrinde, Oye Gureje, Rahmaan Lawal; 'Psychiatric research in Nigeria: bridging tradition and modernisation', The British Journal of Psychiatry (2004) 184: 536-538
  9. ^ WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, 2010 estimates for water and sanitation
  10. ^ USAID: Nigeria Water and Sanitation Profile, ca. 2007
  11. ^ Matthew Gandy:Water, Sanitation, and the Modern City: Colonial and post-colonial experiences in Lagos and Mumbai, , Human Development Report Office Occasional Paper, 2006
  12. ^ National Drug Policy in Nigeria, O. Ransome Kuti. Journal of Public Health Policy > Vol. 13, No. 3 (Autumn, 1992), pp. 367-373
  13. ^ "84 Nigerian children dead from tainted formula". Retrieved 2015-11-30. 
  14. ^ Rais Akhtar; Health Care Patterns and Planning in Developing Countries. Greenwood Press, 1991. 265 pgs.
  15. ^ Darlene A. Clark, Paul F. Clark, James B. Stewart; The Globalization of the Labour Market for Health-Care Professionals. International Labour Review, Vol. 145, 2006
  16. ^ Wadinga Audu; Commercialization of Public Health Service Delivery in Nigeria, GDN Research Project, Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research, Ibadan,Nigeria 2009
  17. ^ "CIA - The World Factbook Life Expectancy". Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  18. ^ "Definitions and notes" Accessed May 11, 2016.
  19. ^ "HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate" CIA World Factbook (2014) Accessed May 11, 2016.
  20. ^ a b "2008 Country Profile: Nigeria". U.S. Department of State. 2008. Archived from the original on 27 June 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2008.  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  21. ^ "Nigeria-Malaria" Accessed May 1, 2016
  22. ^ "President's Malaria Initiative-Nigeria" Accessed May 1, 2016
  23. ^ "Where We Work" Accessed May 12, 2016
  24. ^ "National Malaria Control Program-Home" Accessed May 12, 2016
  25. ^ Nigerian National Merit Award
  26. ^ "The State Of The World's Midwifery". United Nations Population Fund. Retrieved August 2011.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  27. ^ Iyioha, Irehobhude O. (2 November 2015). Comparative health law and policy : critical perspectives on Nigerian and global health law. Taylor and Francis. ISBN 978-1-4724-3675-7. 

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