How Hard it is to See a Doctor in Nigerian Government Hospital

The health sector in Nigeria has been swimming in inefficiency for decades as the governments of several regimes has neglected their fundamental duty to give good and quality health care to citizens. While Nigeria boasts of being linked to some of the best doctors in the world, the health sector in the country is a total mess.

In a recent study carried out by Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Service Reforms, on the ease of seeing a doctor in government hospitals in Nigeria, it was found that, on average, patents spent 3 hours & 29 minutes from when they arrived in hospitals to when they left just to see a doctor, and that people with health insurance, such as NHIS patients wait less (2hrs:35 mins), compared to private/paying patients (3hrs:48 mins).

According to Dr. Joe Abah, the Director-General of Bureau of Public Service Reforms, first time visitors wait 3hrs 45mins to see a doctor, while existing patients spend 6hrs: 27mins to see a doctor.

He wrote that “existing patients spend longer mainly due to poor records retrieval [as it is] easier to open a file for new patients than to search for old files.”

He added that, “Electronic Management of Records have been ineffective due to lack of electricity, computing equipment and network connectivity.” In order to see a doctor many patients queue up as early as 5 am even when there is no space to sit in the waiting room.

The study also showed Nigerian government hospitals have many other problems which includes: poor record management, dirty environment, staff shortage, doctors coming late to work.

Read: The Deplorable State of Medical Research in Nigeria

The problem of the health sector in Nigeria is rooted in many years of neglect. Despite the Abuja Declaration of 2001 where African Head of States endorsed 15 % annual budget by African countries for health sector financing, the health budget allocation of Nigeria for 2017  is a meager 4.15%. Nigeria which calls itself “the giant of Africa” has the worst government funding for health in Africa.

In 2014, Nigeria ranked 45 out of 53 African countries, in health spending. The data for health spending as a share of GDP showed that in 2014, Nigeria (at 3.7%) outperformed Angola (3.3%) and South Sudan (2.7%), but lagged behind Ethiopia (4.9%).

Nigeria is far from the poorest country in Africa, so its total health expenditure is higher than that of some countries, but this spending is about 75% private, and most of that is out of pockets of individuals. Of the 3.7% of GDP that Nigeria spent on health in 2014, only 0.9% of fund came from the government. On this measure, Nigeria dropped to 52nd position out of 53 countries, even below South Sudan.


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