Health Sector In Nigeria: It is no longer news that the Nigerian health sector is in dire straits. Available data show that the country has one of the worst health records in the world. A 2014 World Health Organization (WHO) report on healthcare delivery, which surveyed 200 countries, placed Nigeria at an abysmal 197th position, just ahead of Congo Democratic Republic, Central African Republic (CAR) and Myanmar. Its verdict was damning: “Nigeria lacks a serious approach to healthcare.”
This is obvious from the country’s budgetary allocation to healthcare. According to the Who, for countries to effectively fund the health sector, they need to allocate not less than 13 percent of their annual budget to the sector. Nigeria, one of the 194 member nations of the WHO, is a signatory to this recommendation, just as it also signed the 2001 Abuja Declaration by all African Union member countries which stipulates a budgetary allocation of 15 percent on the minimum to the health sector to be able to catch-up with other developed countries in healthcare delivery to their citizens.
Available figures show that since the declaration was made, Nigeria has not allocated more than 6.57 percent of its budget to health sector. Unsurprisingly, the proposed 2018 budget allocated only N340.45 billion, representing 3.9 percent of the N8.6 trillion expenditure plan to the health sector.
The consequence has been catastrophic as expected. Primary healthcare in Nigeria, which ought to be the first port of call for every citizen seeking medical care, are either ineffective or moribund thus pilling pressure on the tertiary healthcare facilities that are also grossly inadequate. Nigeria is the second-largest contributor to under-five and maternal mortality rate in the world. A recent UNICEF report indicates that 145 women die daily during childbirth in the country. In the country’s worst affected areas, 1 in 13 women die during childbirth. Nigeria also loses about 2,300 under-five year olds every single day, 25 percent of whom are new-born babies. More worrisome is the fact that more than 70 percent of the estimated under-five deaths in Nigeria are caused by preventable or treatable infectious diseases such as malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea, measles and HIV\AIDS.
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