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Nigeria's Pharmaceutical & Health Sector (Posted 22nd September, 2002) Tell your friends about this page! Email it to them.

Nigeria's health sector is on the move again, after years of neglect by successive military regimes that bestrode the country's political landscape like Goliaths. Democracy brings with it a number of good tidings and one of which is the transformation of a country's service sector of which the health sector is a recurring decimal. With a GDP per capita of N1, 073.6 in 1995, by year 2000 a marginal decline of 029.0 had occurred falling to 1, 044.6. This is coupled with an increasing population growth rate of 2.1% in 1995 and 2.8% in 2000 with a corresponding increment in life expectancy at birth at 52 years in 1995 and 54 years in 2000.

Dr. Leke Pitan, Lagos State Commissioner of HealthBut, much cannot be said on the part of the government in terms of funding of the health sector. The Federal Government's recurrent expenditure for 1999-2001 shows N8,783.2, N11,612.6 and N14,202.9 respectively as money spent on the health sector while on the other hand the defence sector expended N28,091.4, N33,119.4 and N38,065.5 respectively for the same corresponding years. The Federal Government capital expenditures for the same years have N7,386.8, N6,569.2 and N26,000.0 respectively for the health sphere and N14,712.3, N35,613.4 and N70,445.0 respectively for the work and road development ministry. The above statistics clearly points to the de-emphasising role of the government in the health sector.

(All figures are in billions of Naira. The Naira is currently exchanging for around 133 Naira to 1 US Dollar)

What is the Way Forward?

To counter the numerous health related problems of an ever increasing population like that of Nigeria is quite daunting. High mortality rate, especially of children below 5 years old, low life expectancy rate, terrible dietary orientation and habit, rapid spread of perceived curable diseases, HIV/AIDS and many more calamitous scenarios and diseases. Many multilateral organisations and donor countries have embarked on different health related schemes to stem the dangerous dimensions Africa's health climate is descending. A number of this national and international onslaught target Malaria (Operation Kick Malaria Out of Africa), Poliomyelitis immunisation which plans to eradicate Polio worldwide by year 2005, Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS campaigns which the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded a five-year grant of $10 million to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), World Bank and World Health Organisation (WHO) Special Programme for Research and Development in Tropical Diseases to facilitate the development of new tests for the diagnosis of Tuberculosis (TB), a disease responsible for some 2 million deaths each year in developing countries and half a million of which occur in persons with HIV infection.

Recently, with the changing of guards to democratic principals in Nigeria, the health sector has become upbeat with governments at the various levels taking a bold and decisive steps to improve the sector with the help of both the Organised Private Sector (OPS) and foreign investors. In this light many forums has been organised to direct the focus of such local and foreign investors to the health sensitive areas investment is required. One of such forum was the just concluded 21st West African International Medical Exhibition at the Expo Centre, Eko Hotel, Lagos which was flagged off by the Honourable Commissioner for Health in Lagos State, Dr. Leke Pitan. This event attracted big names in the industry like Dr. Beko Ransome Kuti, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, Professor Per-Gunnar Svensson (D.G International Hospital Federation) among others. While addressing news men, Dr. Pitan sees the pharmaceutical sub-sector of the Nigerian health sector as being buoyed mainly by foreign pharmaceutical companies who use their Nigerian sister companies for packaging and distribution purposes. He reflected on the surge of fake drugs into the country, which he claims are intentionally done due to unquestioning receptiveness of foreign drugs by many Third World countries. He affirmed that machinery has been set in place in Lagos State in the form of laboratories to check all imported drugs before redistribution to the final consumers to check for defects especially in the required quantity and quality of such drugs. Further accentuating the fake drug scare is the Director General of the National agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Dr. (Mrs.) Dora Akunili, who claims the agency has destroyed over N2 billion worth of fake drugs between April 2001 and March 2002.

Nigeria's health sector is in need of investment in many areas, chief among which is good specialist hospitals that can cater for specialised diseases. The opening of a Cardiac Centre in Lagos last year by Cromwell Hospital, London was a major step in this direction. It is also
pertinent that the country encourage its research and development institutes to discover new drugs and explore how this drugs and others could be manufactured in the country.

Distribution of Health Establishments in Nigeria by type, 1991 and 1993

Type of Establishment Number of Health Establishment Rate of Growth
  1991 1993  
General maternity 897 (6.42) 1170 (8.51) -
Medical health 3349 (23.98) 3263 (22.74) 6.3
Centre 985 (7.05) 1498 (10.44) -
University teaching
14 (0.10) 14 (0.10) -
Dispensary 8405 (60.19) 5575 (38.85) -20.5
Infectious diseases 48 (0.34) 47 (0.33) -1.1
Neuro-psychiatrics 16 (0.12) 16 (0.11) -
Orthopaedic 3 (0.02) 8 (0.06) 49.0
Tuberculosis 12 (0.09) 8 (0.06) -20.3
Ophthalmic 10 (0.07) 20 (0.14) 34.7
Prison hospital 4 (0.03) - -
Leprosarium 43 (0.31) 37 (0.26) -7.5
Leprosy clinics - 2495 (1739) -
Armed forces medical services 177 (1.27) 14 (0.10) -126.8
Dental clinics - 69 (0.48) -

Type of Establishment Number of Health Establishment Rate of Growth 1991 1993

Notifiable Diseases Rates of Morbity Rates of Mortality

(Per 100,000 Population)

  1991 1992 1993 1991 1992 1993
Malaria 1027.7 1337.4 1045.7 2.2 1.2 0.77
Dysentery 523.1 609.0 519.0 1.8 0.7 0.59
Pneumonia 154.8 152.3 171.5 1.0 0.5 0.28
Measles 49.7 94.3 58.3 0.4 0.9 0.34
Gonorrhoea 49.4 45.3 35.5 n.a n.a n.a
Whopping cough 21.1 24.3 25.3 0.1 - 0.06
Filariasis 8.0 14.1 17.9 - - -
Leprosy 15.4 16.3 15.7 - - -
Chicken pox 9.9 19.4 14.1 - - -
Schistosomiasis 15.2 18.7 12.8 - - -
Typhoid 9.9 20.8 12.7 0.3 0.1 0.04
Tuberculosis 22.2 16.2 12.4 0.6 0.3 0.20
Food poisoning 9.4 11.0 12.3 - - -
Hepatitis 10.1 9.1 6.7 0.1 0.1 0.04
Guinea worm 6.2 7.4 5.7 - - -
Meningitis 7.9 7.0 4.5 0.8 0.6 0.39
Cholera 69.6 9.5 4.3 0.8 0.7 0.22
Trachoma 7.9 6.0 4.2 - - -
Ophthalmic 4.0 3.8 4.2 - - -
Influenza 4.0 5.6 4.1 - - -
STD (not syphilis) 20.5 21.7 17.6 - - -
Relapsing fever 5.8 9.5 2.5 - - -

n.a = not available

Nigerian Medical Association
74 Adeniyi Jones Avenue Ikeja
P.O.Box 1108 Marina,
Lagos Nigeria.
E-mail address: [email protected]
Website address:
Phone no.: 01-4801569, 4936854, 090-413223

SOURCE: Federal Ministry of Health, NIGERIA HEALTH PROFILE, 1992-1993.

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