Federal Government claimed it established special intervention programmes to improve the welfare of the people but Nigeria lags behind many other countries in terms of global ranking on development indices
Despite the Federal Government’s efforts to achieve universal health coverage for all Nigerians, the global ranking of the country on developmental indices suggests that the provision of health services in Nigeria is moving at a slow pace and millions of Nigerians have no access to basic health care.
Although the infant mortality rate has decreased globally, Nigeria still accounts for a relatively high death rate among infants per 1,000 live births, when compared with what many other countries have achieved in this regard.
This is attributed to, among other factors, lack of the necessary infrastructure and deplorable conditions of our various health facilities, especially the primary health centres in rural areas.
The United Nations Children Fund placed Nigeria in the 11th position in its global ranking, stressing that newborn babies die in the country due to lack of assistance during delivery, poverty, conflict and weak institutions.
Quoting a survey conducted by the Nigeria Demographic Health Survey 2018, the World Health Organisation said on its website that the under-five mortality rate in Nigeria was 132 per 1,000 live births. What this means is that one in eight Nigerian children never reach the age of five.
The global health agency added that one Nigerian woman died during childbirth every 10 minutes and one Nigerian child under five years of age died every minute.
WHO also said the cost of treatment, deplorable state of the health facilities, distance to health facilities, lack of awareness and knowledge for informed decisions and referral were some of the challenges militating against getting access to health care.
The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib, in April this year compared the number of children dying daily in Nigeria to having 16 plane crashes daily without survivors.
According to the NPHCDA boss, statistics for maternal and under-five child mortality rate in Nigeria was not encouraging, with 2,300 children dying daily from preventable causes.
He said that 145 women died daily from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth in the country.
According to Shuaib, the Federal Government is planning to reduce this figure by 2021 through interventions that target improvement of primary health care at community level.
In a report published by Wikipedia, the World Health Organisation ranks Nigeria in the 180th position, out of 183 countries with the worst record of maternal mortality rate.
WHO also indicated that in 2015, Nigeria’s estimated maternal mortality ratio was over 800 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, with approximately 58,000 maternal deaths during that period.
Before President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Executive Order ending open defecation in Nigeria last month, the United Nations Children’s Fund, in a report, said that Nigeria ranked second among countries of the world where open defecation is common practice, with 47 million people, representing 24% of the nation’s population involved.
UNICEF said the ranking was based on the result of a 2018 survey from the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping. Out of the 47 million people, it added, 16 million live in the North-Central geo-political zone of the country.
The North-East geo-political zone was ranked fourth with 21.8 per cent, while the South-South geo-political zone had an improved record of 17.9% of the population practising open defecation. The survey stated that the North-West had the best record with 10.3%.
Open defecation is known to be the cause of the spread of diseases, such as dysentery, diarrhoea, typhoid, hepatitis, polio and worm infestation, using flies as its major agent.
Some communities defecate in streams and to compound health situation in those communities, they also use water from the same streams to wash their clothes, kitchen utensils, cook and even drink.
Open defecation is mainly caused by poverty among people who cannot afford the cost of constructing standard toilets in their homes. Lack of regular water supply of is another reason for open defecation.
Despite the Federal Government’s claim that primary school education is free in Nigeria, millions of children are currently out of school. Research shows that the prevalence is tilted toward the northern parts of the country, where insurgency, culture and economic challenge combine to deny many of the children formal education.
A Demographic Health Survey conducted in 2015 by the United Nations Children Fund and the Nigerian government, which was released in 2018, ranked Nigeria as having the highest number of out-of-school children in the world.
According to UNICEF, about 10.5 million of Nigeria’s children aged between five and 14 are out of school, while only 61 per cent of children under six and 11 years attend regular primary school.
The agency noted that the prevalence of out-of-school children in the North was higher than any other part of the country.
It said that states in the North-East had female primary net attendance rates of 47.7% and 47.3% in the North-West. It explained that educational deprivation in northern Nigeria was driven by economic barriers and socio-cultural norms and practices that discourage attendance in formal education.
In a report published by the Federal Ministry of Education, the Federal Government put the number of children out of school at 10,193,918.
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, said the figure was derived from a National Personnel Audit of both public and private schools in Nigeria. He said the audit was part of the 2018/2019 Annual School Census, which was carried out by the Universal Basic Education Commission, National Population Commission, National Bureau of Statistics and other stakeholders.
He listed the states mostly affected as Kano, Akwa-Ibom, Katsina, Kaduna, Taraba, Sokoto, Yobe, Zamfara, Oyo, Benue, Jigawa and Ebonyi states.
UNICEF added in its report that in north-eastern Nigeria, 2.8 million children were in need of education-in-emergencies support in conflict-affected states (Borno, Yobe and Adamawa). It stated that in the three states, at least 802 schools were closed and 497 classrooms listed as destroyed, with another 1,392 damaged but repairable.
Access to potable water
Despite the Federal Government’s intervention in the area of provision of potable water for Nigerians through constituency projects sponsored by lawmakers, millions of people in the rural areas are still without potable water supply.
WHO, in a report, estimated that 100 million Nigerians lack basic sanitation facilities, while 63 million people had no access to improved source of water.
To complement the efforts of government, international agencies like the World Bank, WaterAid, USAID, Africa Development Bank, UNICEF, European Union, Japan International Corporation Agency and others have provided financial aid to improve on the availability of potable water in Nigeria.
Access to health care
In 2017, WHO ranked Nigeria 187th among 190 countries with best health system. The organisation used indicators, such as overall level of health, distribution of health in populations, responsiveness and distribution of finance.
According to the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International, Nigeria was ranked as the 144th least corrupt nation, out of a total of 180 countries. It put Nigeria’s score at 27 out of 100, saying corruption in the country averaged 121.48 between 1996 and 2018, reaching an all time high of 152 in 2005.
With the foregoing, it is safe to conclude that despite several promises from the Federal Government, past and present, and her enormous wealth, Nigeria is still very far from trudging the path of development.