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Health in Nigeria - statistics & facts

Nigeria has a population of over 200 million people, the largest in Africa. Among the West African countries, it has the second highest density of medical doctors, which is, however, still very low compared to the actual need for such a populous nation. Government expenditure on health is considerably slimmer than what comes from private contributions, differing by over two thousand billion Nigerian naira. About 3.9 percent of Nigeria's GDP is invested in the health sector, considerably below the average spending on healthcare among OECD countries. Also, OECD member countries are mostly high-income countries, whereas Nigeria is an emerging economy and belongs to countries with lower middle-incomes. Nigerians usually have to pay for medicine out of their own pocket. Often the medicine is expensive and difficult to afford. In 2019, on average, health care made up six percent of Nigerian household spending, with higher figures in rural areas than in urban zones.

Health insurance coverage

The results of a governmental survey show that about 97 percent of Nigerians did not have any health insurance in 2018. People with health insurance mainly had employer-based coverage, whereas privately purchased insurance was uncommon. Nevertheless, Nigeria's Federal Ministry of Health established the National Programme on Immunization, which aims to increase immunization and vaccination rates. A health survey conducted in Nigeria collected data on the vaccination coverage of very young children. The rates exceeded 50 percent for almost all basic vaccinations like BCG, hepatitis B, DPT-Hep B-Hib, polio, measles, and the pneumococcal vaccine.

Serious health threats

The first care of coronavirus infection in Nigeria was recorded at the end of February 2020. Since then, the virus has spread across the country. Figures show that the highest number of cases in Nigeria were registered between May and August 2020 as well as between December 2020 and January 2021 A major serious threat for health in Nigeria is malaria. According to the World Health Organization, malaria is the main cause of maternal mortality and poor child development. Both issues represent critical realities in West Africa. Maternal mortality in Nigeria is the third highest on the whole continent, with over nine hundred deaths per 100,000 live births. West African countries also register some of the highest rates of stunted and wasted children in the world. About seven percent of children living in Western Africa had a weight too low for their height. African regions had the second highest percentage of wasted children worldwide, after South Asia. Wasting is a predictor of infant mortality, caused by a large food shortage, often accompanied by diseases.


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