Health in Nigeria

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Health standards as measured by life expectancy in Nigeria have increased since 1950, although progress has not been steady and maternal mortality rate appears to have increased between 1990 and 2010. Among factors affecting health, access to safe water supply has become more common although not universal, and there is little sewerage infrastructure.

Preventable diseases that occur in Nigeria include HIV/AIDS, malaria and yellow fever. Among other threats to health are malnutrition, pollution and road traffic accidents.

Life expectancy[edit]

The 2014 CIA estimated average life expectancy in Nigeria was 52.62 years.[1]

Period Life expectancy in
Period Life expectancy in
1950–1955 33.8 1985–1990 46.0
1955–1960 35.8 1990–1995 45.9
1960–1965 38.1 1995–2000 46.0
1965–1970 40.0 2000–2005 46.9
1970–1975 42.0 2005–2010 49.8
1975–1980 44.3 2010–2015 51.9
1980–1985 46.0

Source: UN World Population Prospects[2]

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.[3]

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.[4] A 2006 study estimated that only 1% of Lagos households were connected to general sewers.[5]


As of 2014 in Nigeria, the HIV prevalence rate among adults ages 15–49[6] was 3.17 percent.[7] 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.[8]

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.[8]


As of 2012 in Nigeria, the malaria prevalence rate was 11 percent.[9][10] A part of this data is from the President's Malaria Initiative which identifies Nigeria as a high-burden country.[11] 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".[12]

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.[13]

Maternal and child healthcare[edit]

Successful emergency Caesarean section done in Nigeria.

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 is 1 in 23.[14] Nigeria’s abortion laws make it one of the most restrictive countries regarding abortion.[15]

A study published in 2019 investigated the competency of emergency obstetric care among health providers and found it lower than average.[16]


Nutrition, especially in the North of the country, is often poor. Since 2002 food staples are supposed to be fortified with nutrients such as vitamin A, folic acid, zinc, iodine and iron. Bill Gates said there had been “pushback” by some in Nigerian industry as this reduced profit margins. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is donating $5m over four years to implement a rigorous testing regime to make sure these standards are met. These nutrients would reach poorer children who ate mainly a cereal and beans diet at very low cost and reduce the risk of stunting. Vitamin A would reduce the risk of death from measles or diarrhoea. In some districts 7% of children die before they reach the age of five. Nearly half of these are attributable to malnutrition. Aliko Dangote, whose companies supply salt, sugar and flour, said there would need to be a crack down on the import of low-quality foodstuff, often smuggled into local markets.[17]


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

Road traffic accidents[edit]

Every year the lives of approximately 1.25 million people are cut short as a result of a road traffic crash. Between 20 and 50 million more people suffer non-fatal injuries, with many incurring a disability as a result of their injury. Road traffic injuries cause considerable economic losses to individuals, their families, and to nations as a whole. These losses arise from the cost of treatment as well as lost productivity for those killed or disabled by their injuries, and for family members who need to take time off work or school to care for the injured. Road traffic crashes cost most countries 3% of their gross domestic product. Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among people aged between 15 and 29 years.[18]

Over 3 400 people die on the world's roads every day and tens of millions of people are injured or disabled every year. Children, pedestrians, cyclists and older people are among the most vulnerable of road users. WHO works with partners - governmental and nongovernmental - around the world to raise the profile of the preventability of road traffic injuries and promote good practice related to addressing key behaviour risk factors – speed, drink-driving, the use of motorcycle helmets, seat-belts and child restraints.[19]

In Africa, Nigeria has the highest record of road traffic accident. Sumaila (2001) observed that road traffic accidents in Nigeria have claimed more lives than deaths resulting from all communicable diseases put together including the dreaded Acquire Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The study of WHO in 2013 showed that more than one in four deaths in Africa region occurs on Nigerian road.[20]

With the continued dangerous trend of road traffic collision in Nigeria then, which placed it as one of the most road traffic accident (RTA) prone countries worldwide (the most in Africa) in 2013,[21][22] the Nigerian government saw the need to establish the present Federal Road Safety Corps in 1988 to address the carnage on the highways.

Level and trend of road traffic accidents[edit]

The increase in level of motorization coupled with near collapse of rail system and high cost of air travels in Nigeria have put quite a lot of pressure on the country’s road transport industry. This consequently has caused increased accident and fatality rate in the country. In absolute term there were 13262 traffic accidents in 2012 against 164.8 million population and 13539090 registered vehicles, indicating a rate of 8 accidents per 100000 population or 98 accidents per 100000 registered vehicles.[23]

The table below shows the level and trend of road traffic accidents in Nigeria: 2007-2012

Year Number of RTA Number of Death RTA per 100,000 Population RTA per 100,000 vehicles severity index death per 10 crashes
2007 8477 4673 5.89 111.54 0.55 5.51
2008 11341 6661 7.67 145.40 0.59 5.87
2009 10854 5693 7.15 117.98 0.52 5.25
2010 11385 6052 7.30 92.06 0.53 5.32
2011 13196 6054 8.23 100.37 0.46 4.59
2012 13262 6092 8.05 97.95 0.46 4.59

Adapted from Quest Journals Journal of Research in Humanities and Social Science

The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) says 456 people died and 3404 others were injured in 826 accidents recorded nationwide in January (2018).

The FRSC stated this in its CCC report for January signed by its Corps Marshal, Boboye Oyeyemi.[24]

Causes of road traffic accidents[edit]

The causes of road traffic accidents depend on a list of factors which can be broadly divided into:

  • (i). Vehicle operator or driver factors
  • (ii). Vehicle factors
  • (iii). Road pavement condition factors
  • (iv). Environmental factors.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals[edit]

In September 2015, the General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Building on the principle of “leaving no one behind”, the new Agenda emphasizes a holistic approach to achieving sustainable development for all.[25] The Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

  • The Target 3.6 under goal 3 is designed specifically to addresses the issue of road traffic accident: By 2020, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents §

The Federal Government of Nigeria has put some mechanisms in place to ensure implementation of the SDGs in the country[26] however, Nigeria is still far from achieving this goal.

Traditional/Alternative medicine[edit]

As recent reports have shown, in addition to the many benefits there are also risks associated with the different types of Traditional Medicine / Complimentary or alternative Medicine. Although consumers today have widespread access to various TM/CAM treatments and therapies, they often do not have enough information on what to check when using TM/CAM in order to avoid unnecessary harm.[27] While traditional medicine has a lot to contribute to the health and economy, much harm has resulted from unregulated sale and misuse of traditional/alternative medicine and herbs in the country and has significantly delayed patients' seeking professional healthcare.[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "CIA - The World Factbook Life Expectancy". Retrieved 2014-06-24.
  2. ^ "World Population Prospects – Population Division – United Nations". Retrieved 2017-07-15.
  3. ^ WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, 2010 estimates for water and sanitation
  4. ^ USAID: Nigeria Water and Sanitation Profile, ca. 2007
  5. ^ Matthew Gandy:Water, Sanitation, and the Modern City: Colonial and post-colonial experiences in Lagos and Mumbai, Human Development Report Office Occasional Paper, 2006
  6. ^ "Definitions and notes" Accessed May 11, 2016.
  7. ^ "HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate" CIA World Factbook (2014) Accessed May 11, 2016.
  8. ^ a b "2008 Country Profile: Nigeria". U.S. Department of State. 2008. Archived from the original on 16 August 2008. Retrieved 25 August 2008. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  9. ^ "Nigeria-Malaria" Accessed May 1, 2016
  10. ^ "President's Malaria Initiative-Nigeria" Accessed May 1, 2016
  11. ^ "Where We Work" Accessed May 12, 2016
  12. ^ "National Malaria Control Program-Home" Accessed May 12, 2016
  13. ^ Nigerian National Merit Award
  14. ^ "The State Of The World's Midwifery". United Nations Population Fund. Retrieved August 2011. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ Okonofua, F.; Ntoimo, L.F.C.; Ogu, R.; Galadanci, R.; Gana, M.; et al. (April 2019). "Assessing the knowledge and skills on emergency obstetric care among health providers: Implications for health systems strengthening in Nigeria". PLOS ONE. 14. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0213719. PMID 30958834.
  17. ^ "Nigerian food sector commits to nutrient fortification". Financial Times. 5 August 2018. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  18. ^
  19. ^ [1] WHO
  20. ^ Impact Assessment of Road Traffic Accidents on Nigerian Economy Yusuff, Mulkat Ajibola Department of General Studies The Federal Polytechnic, P. M. B 50, Ilaro, Ogun State, Nigeria Received 02 December, 2015; Accepted 15 December, 2015 © The author(s) 2015. Published with open access at
  21. ^ List of countries by traffic-related death rate. Wikipedia. 2018-04-11.
  22. ^ [2]. World Health Organization. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  23. ^
  24. ^ premiumtimes
  25. ^ UN SDG
  26. ^ punch newspaper assessing-sdgs-implementation-in-nigeria
  27. ^
  28. ^

External links[edit]