Why Ehanire must arrest Nigeria’s declining healthcare system

Medical practitioners want Osagie Ehanire, health minister, to fix infrastructural deficits in the sector and improve public healthcare delivery across the country.

They also want him and his minister of state, Adeleke Mamora, to work towards improving practitioners’ welfare to stem the massive migration of Nigerian doctors, and improve annual budgetary allocation to health sector in the country.

 “We believe that it is time to invest more in improvement of the healthcare service delivery processes in Nigeria,” said a health analyst.

Francis Faduyile, President, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), said the minister should be able to work with commissioners for health in states to strengthen service delivery.

“With their collaboration, they can put a lot of pressure on the governors and the National Council of Health to mobilise resources at the primary and secondary levels of healthcare,” Faduyile said.

Ademola Aina, chairman, HCPAN Lagos, said he expects the new minister to improve public healthcare delivery across the country.

“Hospitals over all the country are not really hospitals in terms of infrastructures. We need more facilitates and also strategies to increase speed of the health insurance system in order for Nigerians to have access to care,” said Aina.

Doyin Odubanjo, chairman, Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria, Lagos Chapter, advised Ehanire to work with practitioners to stem factors that fuel migration of Nigerian doctors, saying that human resources in the sector should be given adequate attention.

Nigeria’s health expenditure as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) averaged 3.4 percent between 2007 and 2016, compared with South Africa (6.5 per cent) and Kenya (4.5 per cent), according to data sourced from the World Bank.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Nigeria has one of the lowest doctors to population ratio in Africa.

A poll citing the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) reported that there are about 72,000 nationally-registered Nigerian doctors, with only 35,000 practising in-country. Factoring this figure with national population estimates, there is a deficit of over 260,000 doctors in Nigeria and a minimum of 10,605 new doctors need to be recruited annually to meet global targets.

“Political will is a base for successful healthcare system. The minister is expected to put more effort in terms of  increasing budgetary allocation to the health sector in order to stem the tide of increase in mortality and morbidity rate” Larne Yusuf, a medical practitioner,   said.

Nigeria has worst life expectancy record in West Africa with 54.5 years, according to the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) data. The report shows the influenza and pneumonia kill 305, 460 Nigerians each year, while diarrhoeal diseases sending 186,218 annually to their early graves. The country has seven chemotherapy machines for cancer patients, but only two are functioning.

According to the World Bank estimates, Nigeria’s Maternal Mortality Rate is still as high as 821 per 100,000 live births as against Kenya’s 540.

In the pharmaceutical aspect of healthcare, the cost of drugs also makes it difficult for many people to get treatment. Seventy per cent of drugs used in Nigeria are imported, implying the already financially challenged Nigerians have to a pay premium for most medicines.

The new minister has to come up with a healthcare policy for the country. It should not be a one or two-year policy but a long term vision of where the healthcare needs for the country can be catered for.


Anthonia Obokoh & Temitayo Ayetoto