New Telegraph

Health Coverage: World Bank Scores Nigeria Low In Africa

A World Bank health expenditure report has ranked Nigeria low with an index score of 44 in Universal Health Coverage (UHC) within Africa region.

According to the bank’s human capital public expenditure and institutional review, high cost health related expenses account for pushing of over one million Nigerians into poverty.

The report noted: “Nigeria ranks near the bottom in Africa in Universal Health Coverage. With a score of 44, Nigeria’s Universal Health Coverage index has seen some improvement over time but still ranks among the lowest in the African region.

“The coverage of essential health services remains limited, and the proportion of health expenditures financed by out-of pocket payments is the highest in the region, which is indicative of the country’s poor health outcomes.

“Despite some progress in recent years, the pace of improvement in Nigeria’s health indicators lags behind that of other African nations.

For example, the increase in life expectancy in Nigeria has been more gradual compared to other countries on the continent.” While it acknowledged the country recorded some progress, the report said that the country remained lowest in the continent in the area of adequate health provisions.

Despite some progress, Nigeria’s UHC remains among the lowest on the continent, reflecting the limited coverage of essential health services. It added: “Nigerian government’s health expenditure of just 0.5 per cent of GDP, ranking it among the lowest globally.

Out-of-pocket payments dominated Nigeria’s health care financing, accounting for 77 per cent of total health expenditures. Such a high reliance on out-of-pocket payments has several adverse effects, one of the most significant being the financial burden it places on households.

“On average, health-related expenses push more than one million Nigerians into poverty each year. Additionally, the prohibitive cost of care leads many to forego necessary medical treatments.

For those who manage to avoid falling below the poverty threshold, a substantial number still face catastrophic health expenditures, with a quarter of Nigerians experiencing such financial strains annually.

“The limited public funds allocated to health in Nigeria are predominantly directed toward secondary and tertiary care facilities, with a significant portion of the budget being spent on curative services within these higher-level hospitals.

This allocation strategy overlooks the crucial areas of prevention, public health, and primary health care, which are both cost-effective and have a high impact on overall health outcomes.”

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