Nigeria is a relatively large country in West Africa, bordering Niger, Chad, Cameroon, and Benin. With a population of approximately 200 million people as of 2018 and a total area of almost 925,000 km², Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa (7th most populous country in the world). Often referred to as the “Giant of Africa” due to its large population and economy, Nigeria is a regional power on the African continent, and an emerging global power. Nigeria’s total expenditure on healthcare as a percentage of GDP is about 4.6%, with 1.5% attributed to federal government expenditure.
Healthcare & Precautions in Nigeria
Due to the under-funding of the healthcare system and shortages of medical supplies, the quality of Nigerian healthcare institutions is generally poor. A major problem the Nigerian healthcare system is facing is the shortage of doctors and medical staff, also referred to as the “brain dain”. Many highly-trained Nigerian doctors have emigrated to North America or Europe in pursuit of higher wages or a better quality of life, causing a shortage of skilled doctors in Nigeria. One of the goals of the Nigerian government is to retain these trained professional doctors in an attempt to improve the quality of their healthcare system.
Moving to Nigeria can be a big challenge for expats, especially when it comes to healthcare. Although HIV/AIDS rate in Nigeria is much lower compared to other African countries, the rate is still higher than the international average. Furthermore, other common diseases like malaria are widespread across the country. In order to avoid malaria, one should take anti-malarial medication, wear long sleeves and long pants, use insect repellents, and sleep under a mosquito net when possible. Expats are also advised to get their routine vaccinations checked up and renewed; and some immunizations need to be done up to six months before moving to Nigeria. Furthermore, a yellow fever vaccination has recently been made compulsory for anyone applying for a visa to Nigeria.
Health Insurance in Nigeria
Health insurance in Nigeria is handled by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), which was established in order to attract more resources to the health care sector and ultimately improve the health of Nigerians at an affordable cost. However, since its establishment, less than 7,000,000 of almost 200,000,000 Nigerians are covered by the NHIS. The low number of enrolees is largely due to inconsistencies in governance of the NHIS, scandals, and policy abortions.
There are two main health insurance packages in Nigeria, namely the Health Management Organization (HMO) plan and the Out of Pocket (OOP) plan. The HMO plan is more popular than the OOP plan and is considered better, since HMOs are cooperating with the government to provide health care services to NHIS subscribers. Just like insurance companies, HMOs collect premiums by the enrolees for insurance cover, and make capitation payments to the hospitals in order to treat the enrolees when the need arises.
Expats and visitors in Nigeria are not covered by the Nigerian healthcare system, and would have to pay a high rate to use the healthcare facilities, despite the low quality of health care and infrastructure. Medical facilities outside the major Nigerian cities like Lagos and Abuja lack the resources required to be able to handle treatments that are beyond basic medical services. One would most likely have to evacuate Nigeria to seek proper medical treatment in the event of a serious injury or illness, which is typically very costly.
For these reasons, we strongly encourage all expats living in Nigeria to purchase a comprehensive international health insurance policy which provides an emergency evacuation and repatriation benefit. It is also always recommended to buy a group medical insurance plan for your organization in Nigeria. If you would like to purchase a comprehensive corporate health insurance plan, MyBroker Inc. can assist you with all your coverage needs at competitive rates.
For more information about the Nigeria health insurance policies we can offer, please feel free to contact us today.