It’s World Health Day 2021 and Nigerians can’t relate

Together for a fairer, healthier world” is theme for this year’s World Health Day, but as a Nigerian, you may argue if efforts are made – in any form – to ensure a healthy Nigeria.

Child and maternal mortality

“As of 2021, the mortality rate of infants aged under one year old in Nigeria was measured at 58.23. This means that there were about 58 deaths of children under the age of one year per 1,000 live births.

World Health Day

Similarly, maternal mortality rates are high. In 2017, Nigeria recorded 917 deaths of mothers per 100,000 live births,” Statista notes.

In 2020, Statista published a report saying, “In 2017, the main causes of death among children aged under five in Nigeria were neonatal disorders. More specifically, 22.85 percent of all deaths were caused by neonatal disorders. Among the main cases of infant mortality in Nigeria, there were lower respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases, and malaria.”


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A warning by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that the COVID-19 pandemic could harm efforts to eradicate malaria appears to be coming true in Nigeria. Nigerian officials, during the heat of the pandemic, said people were refusing to get treatment for fear of catching the coronavirus.

WHO’s World malaria report 2020 suggested the pandemic is threatening years of progress made against malaria and warned that death rates from the disease could increase.

Nigeria accounts for about a quarter of malaria cases worldwide, and about 23% of deaths globally.

Even before COVID-19 hit the country, many Nigerians took malaria less seriously, says Adeboyega Adeyogo, who heads pharmaceutical operations at WellaHealth, a Nigerian health company focusing on eliminating malaria.

In 2019, 6 countries accounted for approximately half of all malaria deaths worldwide: Nigeria (23%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (11%), United Republic of Tanzania (5%), Burkina Faso (4%), Mozambique (4%) and Niger (4% each).

Lassa Fever

In February, Anadolu Agency reported that a total of 22 people in Nigeria have died from a Lassa fever outbreak since January.

Lassa fever

The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said 102 cases have been detected in Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Nasarawa, Enugu, Taraba and Bauchi states since the beginning of the year.

A total of 2787 confirmed cases and 516 deaths were reported in Nigeria from December, 2016 to September, 2020.

There is an annual increase in the number of LASV infection across the states in Nigeria and we are hardly bothered.


Also, the burden of the HIV/AIDS epidemic is huge, but we can talk of significant growth here knowing that there’s external help.


“The achievements of Nigeria with United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund in 2020 have significantly moved the needle towards treatment saturation and advanced the hope of epidemic control and the end of AIDS in these states and the entire country,” said Osagie Ehanire, Nigeria’s Health Minister.

“Thanks to PEPFAR and its implementing partners, Nigeria was able to ensure not just continuity of HIV services, but was able to expand the reach, despite the country being locked down due to COVID-19,” said Gambo Aliyu, Director-General of the National AIDS Coordination Agency.

“A record 279,000 people living with HIV additionally were put on treatment during this period.”

The mysterious ones

At other times, it is a mysterious disease killing people, as in the case with Kano in June 2020, where over 1,000 people fell, and in South East Nigeria in November 2020 where 57 people stop breathing.

To say Nigeria is progressing in health matters is beating around the bush and dancing with hyenas to laugh at yourself, especially when the President has to go out for medical tourism every time he needs medical care.

Today is World Health Day, and while we argue that inequities have always existed, we can not talk of gains that have been shared equally across communities.

“Health is a fundamental human right. Every person deserves to live a healthy life regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, disability, economic situation or employment. Progress in tackling health disparities has been slow worldwide,” said Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO, Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean.

Where do we begin with dilapidated medical facilities?

On World Health Day 2021, WHO is calling on leaders to monitor health inequalities and address their root causes to ensure that everyone has access to the living and working conditions that are conducive to good health and to quality health services where and when they need them, and to invest in primary health care to achieve health for all by all.

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