Some Nigerians pride themselves as the ‘Giant of Africa’ based on a numerical advantage offered by the stroke of Lord Luggard’s felt pen in 1914. Only recently, with the exponential growth of MTN has the country come to realise the potential economic value of its rising population. It is definitely a great market, but there is more to building a country than market size, especially one like ours that consumes a lot and produces very little.
So, what does this mean for Health? Firstly, let us look at the shape of our population? The Nigerian Population Commission tells us that there are now 167 million of us. These 167 million Nigerians are not evenly distributed. They are mostly young consumers of services. Across the country, while we have seen growth in the private sector driving sections of the economy, our public services, especially health have lagged behind. With some notable exceptions in Lagos and Rivers states, the health sector has received little investment. Our politicians do not find political capital in investing in health. So, we are sitting on a time bomb….failing public services and a burgeoning young population. Is any one listening? We are unable to provide for the health of our population, the same population that is growing exponentially – something will have to give.
We are not the only ones worrying about this. On the day the Nigerian Population Commission announced that our population was now a staggering 167,912,561 and is projected to hit 221,392,163 by July 1, 2020. – hardly anyone paid attention. As described by the Regional Head of Research, Africa, Global Research, Standard Chartered Bank, Razia Khan, Nigeria’s “big concern of course is whether sufficient employment opportunities can be generated to absorb the country’s growing pool of labour, and whether this can take place rapidly enough.”
We have to prepare or be prepared to fail. Business as usual will not be good enough. Our leaders will have to lead…in no sector is it more critical than the health sector.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead