Healthcare in Nigeria

The healthcare system in Nigeria
Updated 2021-01-11 06:54

Nigeria is exposed to a number of serious epidemics, and the national network of healthcare facilities exhibits uneven quality standards, hence the importance of well investigating the available healthcare options to best prepare your move to Nigeria. Health insurance is a necessity.

Sanitary conditions in Nigeria

Unplanned concentration of people in slums in and around cities has led to sanitation issues which pose a serious threat to public health. Water can be contaminated, causing various intestinal diseases, and deadly respiratory diseases are very common in urban settlements.

Prevalence of such epidemics as HIV (3.17% among adults as of 2014) and malaria (11% in 2012) is another major health concern in the country. Cholera, tetanus or polio, practically extinct or at least easily treated in developed countries, are still fairly dangerous in Nigeria. On the other hand, the country successfully contained the outbreak of Ebola virus that occurred in the West African region in 2014.

As a result expats spare no effort on preventive measures and treatments: mosquito nets, frequent fumigation of living areas, large stocks of bottled water, and immediately visiting the doctor upon experiencing minor symptoms.

Although the only compulsory vaccinations for Nigeria are against yellow fever and cholera, some health professionals also recommend getting vaccines against tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis A and B, measles, rubella, typhoid and meningitis before moving to the country, and taking long-term antimalarial prophylaxes once on the spot. It is advisable to consult a knowledgeable doctor in your home country to discuss these matters.

Health facilities in Nigeria

All the federal, state and local governments in Nigeria run diverse healthcare facilities, ranging from large general or specialised hospitals and university teaching hospitals to small rural dispensaries and primary health centres. However, public institutions sometimes lack the needed personnel (the 'brain drain' of skilled doctors to developed countries is putting a strain on the country's human resources), equipment, and supplies. As a result, health provision in many parts of the country is less than adequate.

Private players have found their way into this flawed market, and private facilities are to be found across the country, from large hospitals in cities to smaller clinics in rural towns. The private sector is what most expats in Nigeria turn to. The bill must often be settled in cash, upfront, and can rapidly escalate.

Good to know:

Medication can be bought from the country's many pharmacies, but these often face supply shortages, and counterfeit pharmaceuticals is a concern in the country. Owning a first aid kit can also be helpful.

Health insurance in Nigeria

A National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has been rolled out by the government in 1999. Although it aims for universal coverage, less than 5% of the population is currently covered by the NHIS, and the government continues its effort to further it.

As a consequence, subscribing to private health insurance is a necessity, all the more that private treatment can be very costly, especially in case of emergency evacuation abroad. A raft of local private insurance providers exist, but the intense competition on the market has led some to lower quality and safety requirements in order to offer better prices. Ample and thorough investigation is recommended when picking a health insurance plan in Nigeria.

Some of the world's leading health insurance providers are:

Consider having a look at their offers according to your needs and get a free quote on's Health Insurance for expatriates in Nigeria page.

Useful links:

National Health Insurance Scheme
List of Hospitals in Nigeria

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