Your guide to health insurance in Nigeria
For many expats, moving to Nigeria is a big challenge. The country is often seen as a high-risk region due to rising economic, cultural, and faith-based turmoil. Healthcare has also been in the limelight over the years and has a long journey ahead before it becomes a mainstream functioning healthcare system.
This short guide offers a summary of the healthcare system in Nigeria for expats residing or traveling in the country. Read on to learn more, or click the button below to obtain a no-obligation, free health insurance quote.
The healthcare system in Nigeria
Nigeria has one of the most inefficient health systems in the world. A study conducted in 2010 by the World Health Organisation labeled Nigeria’s healthcare as one of the worst in the world - ranked 187th out of 190 countries. Life expectancy in Nigeria for men is 46.8 years, whereas for women it is 48.4 years. Expatriates and travelers heading to Nigeria are advised to carefully research the healthcare system and secure comprehensive international health insurance before traveling to the country.
The reality on the ground is quite stark from home. In fact, Nigeria’s healthcare system has deteriorated over many years because of a lack of resources, neglect, and an insufficient number of Nigerian doctors and trained medical professionals. Highly-trained medical professionals often leave the country in order to pursue their profession in countries with better infrastructure or higher wages. This trend further reduces the ability of Nigeria’s public healthcare system to provide stable and sustainable healthcare services to its population.
Furthermore, shortages of medical supplies, poor hygiene conditions, and detrimental diseases make standards even lower. Many diseases that are rarely seen in developed countries – such as cholera, tetanus and even polio – can still lead to deaths in Nigeria, as many healthcare facilities in the country cannot cope and contain the diseases.
Thus, the lack of quality healthcare is a serious drawback that expats, assignees, and travelers have to begrudgingly accept. However, with adequate coverage from an international private health insurance plan, individuals can find solutions to their healthcare needs without relying on the public healthcare system.
The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in Nigeria
The NHIS is a public health system that was officially established in 1999 with the purpose of providing universal coverage. However, due to many flaws over the years, the ability of the system to provide free and good quality healthcare for the entire population has been fairly limited. Private healthcare is also available to extend treatment for the population but is only available to those that can afford the costs.
Public healthcare services in Nigeria
Public hospitals in Nigeria are overcrowded and numerous infectious diseases develop and spread around due to a lack of hygiene. The mortality rate is high in public hospitals as Nigerians die from diseases, such as cholera, tetanus, and polio. Poor hospital management is mainly to blame, but poor funding overall means the system as a whole struggles to gain complete control of infections.
With that said, it is also worth noting that the Nigerian government is taking steps to improve the health of its citizens by supplying vaccinations and implementing much needed public health initiatives. However, the journey remains a long one before a beneficial and sustainable health service becomes effective enough to provide adequate care. For those that can afford it, going to a private hospital or clinic is definitely better in terms of treatments and safety.
Private healthcare services in Nigeria
With public services in the country being poor and inadequate, it is recommended for expatriates to receive consultations in private hospitals and clinics. Nevertheless, it is important to be aware that conditions in private hospitals are still below the standards of most Western hospitals.
Although being able to treat common health problems, the lack of up-to-date equipment and facilities makes treating and diagnosing certain complex illnesses nearly impossible. It is therefore recommended that individuals have medical evacuation plans in place. This should be done on top of a comprehensive international health insurance plan. As long as individuals and loved ones have a health and a medical evacuation plan in place, they are guaranteed adequate health treatment at an international medical facility, such as in Europe or South Africa.
Health information for travelers to Nigeria
Expats and travelers planning to make Nigeria the center or their career or future home should consider consulting a general practitioner (GP) to get the latest recommended vaccinations. Bear in mind that these are normally done up to 6 months in advance of traveling to Nigeria. The immunizations should include:
- Hepatitis A and B
- Varicella (chickenpox)
- Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR)
Other vaccinations might be advisable depending on the destination in Nigeria and the duration of the stay. For example, a GP might additionally recommend vaccination for meningitis (meningococcal disease), and rabies. Furthermore, a recent yellow fever vaccination is one of the prerequisites for the STR visa according to the country’s immigration rules.
How to find the best health insurance for expats and travelers
With almost two decades of extensive experience gained from across the globe, Pacific Prime can assist with any health insurance needs in Nigeria. By leveraging our close relationships with major international insurers, we offer professional advice and free plan comparisons to our clients.
No matter what your budget is, or what your requirements are, our professional consultants can match you with a policy that best fits you or your group. Our policies can cover a wide range of services including dental, maternity, specialist consultation, health emergency transportation, inpatient services, and many more aspects.
Expatriates with family members can also secure international cover for the whole family. For international students or travelers in search of international health insurance or travel insurance, Pacific Prime is the go-to insurance intermediary for the best impartial advice and guidance.
Contact us today for a free consultation!