Hope for Health in Nigeria

As the most populous country in Africa (one in four Africans live in Nigeria), providing universal health care is no easy task. But even allowing for the difficulties posed by providing health care to a large population, the country still underperforms. Life expectancy at birth averages just 54 years for both sexes. Maternal mortality is 608 per 100, 000 live births, and the mortality rate for children younger than 5 years is more than double the global average at 157 per 1000 live births. Just 6% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) is spent on health and there are enormous inequalities in its allocation between the rich and poor areas of the country. On May 19, the two Houses of the Nigerian National Assembly finally passed the National Health Bill into law, after 7 years of inaction and procrastination. The bill provides a framework for the regulation and provision of national health services, defines the rights of health workers and users, and stipulates guidelines for the formulation of a national health policy.

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