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The Effects of Economic Challenges on the Health Sector in Nigeria

It has come to a period where the Federal Government of Nigeria is to declare a state of emergency in health sector of the country. The Nigerian economy has decelerated, especially after the declaration in July 2016 of the Nigerian economic recession by the Finance Minister for the Federal Government because of the increased inflation to 17.1% higher than the previous years (Alloh F. T, 2017). The lead to a decrease in the price of crude oil from $115 in 2014, to $35 per barrel (World's Economic Forum, 2016).

The crude oil accounts for 75% of the country’s economy, therefore, having a significant impact on all sectors of the country. In addition, Nigeria is battling with one of the most dangerous terrorist group in the world known as book haram. Also, the pipelines in the south-south region of Nigeria is being attacked by the Niger-Delta militants. This is an unrest against the Nigerian government for disrupting the crude oil production among the area.

The Nigerian government has considered the healthcare of the people as a low priority. According to the United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in July 2016, the withdrawal of healthcare workers in Borno state has resulted to an increase of health victims due to the threat imposed on the lives of the health workers. UNICEF has estimated that more than 2 million crisis victims need health care services, leaving more than 1.2 million people internally disabled (Burki T, 2016). This has increased the rate of malnutrition among children with an estimate of over 244,00 children. 49,000 are at risk of dying if healthcare services are not provided in the areas most affected by the insurgency. The level of acute malnutrition recorded between July and August (2016) was well above the 15% threshold and classified critical with some cases higher than 50% representing about half of children affected.

In the northern states of Nigeria, more than 72% of health care facilities in Yobe, and 60% in Borno state have been destroyed because of the insurgency. The challenges confronted by Nigeria has led to a high poor rate of health outcomes. According to the African Health Observatory report by WHO, Nigeria has the fourth highest maternal death among African countries; leading to over 820/100,00 deaths per live births, and 109/100,00 death among children under the age of five per live births resulting to 58,00 women and 750,000 children dying in 2015 (WHO, 2016).

The life expectancy in Nigeria among men and women is 53years(males), and 56(females) which Is among the lowest in the world. Less than half (49%) of the children in Nigeria received DPT/Penta dose of immunization, which was below the target percentage (90%) in the goal of Millennium Development to decrease the child mortality rate. In 2015, half of the children were unable to receive vaccinations against measles and rubella, thereby raising the health risks. WHO reported three cases of polio crisis in Borno state; after the country stated that there were no existing cases of polio within the state (WHO, 2014).  

After the 2001 benchmark declaration in Abuja where 15% of yearly budget was allocated to the health sector, Nigeria has failed to reach the target in every given year. During the recession in Nigeria, the impact of poor funding on the health sector has risen. The federal ministry of health reported that the budget allocated to the health sector is reduced as a gradual decrease from N264.64 billion ($839 million), equivalent to 6.0% of the national budget in 2014, to N257.38 billion ($816 million) equivalent to 4.23% of the annual budget in 2016 6. This was because of the economic recession, causing the GDP to drop by -2.06% in 2016 according to the National Bureau of Statistics (National Bureau of statistics, 2016).  
Due to the lack of funding in Nigeria, the health sector is unable to address the health issues confronted by the country. This increases the poor framework of the health sector, and coordination with variation of fragmented services, scarcity of medical supplies, and medical pills, old and decaying infrastructure, lack of healthcare services, poor quality of health care delivery, and increase in health inequality gap between the rich and the poor.


1.      Alloh F. T, a. R. (2017). Effect of economic and security challenges on the Nigerian Health Sector. Retrieved from
2.       Burki T. (2016). Health crisis intensifying in Nigeria. Borno State, Nigeria.
3.       National Bureau of statistics. (2016). Nigerian gross Domestic product report.
4.       WHO. (2014, july). Government of Nigeria reports 2 wild polio cases,. Retrieved from
5.       WHO. (2016). Atlas of African Health Statistics 2016 - Health situation analysis of the African Region. Retrieved from
6.       World's Economic Forum. (2016, March 2). Retrieved from What’s behind the drop in oil prices?:

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