Nigerians on the average die 13 years sooner than Ghanaians


So very often in discussing the state of affairs in our country, we tend to compare ourselves to countries in the West, to the “Asian Tigers” or the BRIC nations. Lately we have adopted a more rationale path of comparing ourselves to our neighbors. The most obvious of these being Ghana. We share a colonial heritage with our brothers to the west, and have shared a lot of the post colonial challenges of military rule, coups and corrupt, inept leaders. But somehow Ghana has managed to dig itself out of the quandary, and start on a strong trajectory of self development. It has become one of the most travelled tourist destinations forNigerians, to the extent that the famous meeting of the Iyabo Obasanjo led Senate Committee on Health which was financed with N10 million from the illegally disbursed N300 million that the Ministry of Health took place in Ghana.

I recently found this interesting website that enables one to compare Nigeria to other countries on publicly available data. So, naturally I compared our great country to Ghana in terms of our health outcomes and the answers were sobering.

Nigerians on the average die 13.31 years sooner than Ghanaians; the life expectancy at birth in Nigeria is 47.24 while in Ghana it is 60.55.

Nigerians have 86.39% more chance of dying in infancy than Ghanaians; the number of deaths of infants under one year old in a given year per 1,000 live births in Nigeria is 92.99 while in Ghana it is 49.89.
For more visit the website yourself. 

To find out more about what our neighbours are doing in the health sector – visit some of these websites

Ghana Ministry of Health

Ghana Health Service

To get our health sector in order to deliver on the expectations of the Nigerian people and empower us to stand firm again will require re- prioritisation of health on the political agenda as we go into election season. In addition it will also require the Nigerian government to recognise that delivering on health will require sustained competence and commitment. As we have done for other priority sectors we must search the country for the individuals with the competence and courage to deal with the immediate challenges of strikes and the long term challenges of improving our life expectancy! By comparing ourselves to our neighbours maybe our politicians will see the political capital waiting for them if they prioritise the health of Nigerians.

The map below shows countries sized in proportion to the absolute number of people who died from childhood disease in one year, from the great comparator website Gapminder. It does help up put into perspective where we are!
Source –
Maybe if we communicate to people better, they will begin to demand more of their government. Maybe these tools will help our politicians see what everyone else does.

That to live in Nigeria is a greater health risk compared to almost any other country in Africa.

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

Chikwe Ihekweazu is an epidemiologist and consultant public health physician. He is the Editor of Nigeria Health Watch, and the Managing Partner of EpiAfric (, which provides expertise in public health research and advisory services, health communication and professional development. He previously held leadership roles at the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the UK's Health Protection Agency. Chikwe has undertaken several short term consultancies for the World Health Organisation, mainly in response to major outbreaks. He is a TED Fellow and co-curator of TEDxEuston.

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