The health of Nigerians in 2007….Some hope, Many Disappointments …and 10 stories


When we started off….we said….

When your neighbour dies from measles, during child birth, in a car accident, rather than conclude it was as “God wanted it”, think, ask and act on the failures; the missed chance at vaccination, inadequate antenatal care or non-existent emergency services that might have prevented these deaths. The alternative would be to conclude that God really has a problem with us Nigerians; why else would he let so many of us die from causes no one else is dying from? We will ask the hard questions.

….we hope we have. We hope too that you have enjoyed reading our BLOG. We hope that it has lead you to ask some hard questions…and sometimes go the extra mile.

If you have found the information in this blog useful, join us in raising awareness on health issues in Nigeria. Send out the link, add to your favourites, subscribe to the RSS fee or email….and send in your comments.

Have a healthier 2008!

Nigeria go better!

Find below 10 stories that we felt most affected the health of Nigerians in 2007. We will come back to them at the end of 2008.

Chikwe & Ike


Health must be seen, felt and palpated in every household. Words of the new Nigerian Minister of Health, Prof Adenike Grange. The optimism surrounding her recent appointment seems justified looking at press reports. In her first meeting with key stakeholders in the Nigerian health sector, she emphasized that it is time to move from a focus on policy to implementation and evaluation.

She seems to have made the reduction of Maternal mortality the focus of her tenure in office. The key question is how? Prof Grange has definitely got her job cut out… She comes across as honest, strong willed and self-assured. The hope of 140 million Nigerians rest on her shoulders…Restoring Health to the agenda, is a matter of life and death


We blogged severally about measles in our first year…and we hope that we will not have to do so in 2008. We keep coming back to this because we still have not found the answer to the question Why is it still alright for children to die from a Measles, a disease that can be prevented with a vaccine that costs less than a bottle of coke in NIGERIA?…

How THISDAY reported the measles outbreak in Zaria
Sad – Yet another Measles outbreak
Why children continue to die from a disease that can be prevented with 50 cents!
Measles outbreak update, civil society oversight and some cheering notes
Another Measles Outbreak

Find below the profile of Mrs Titilola Koloese-Adelekan. The Chief Executive of the Nigerian Primary Health Care Development Agency, into which the National Programme for Immunisation (NPI) was merged into in 2007.


The 18bn naira ($145m) contract to build health clinics across the country said to have been awarded to a company believed to be owned by a former aide to Mr Obasanjo was canceled by the Yar’Adua government. This has finally been confirmed.
The contractor cried blue murder and asserted that the project was 50% completed….he believes that we will miss the Millenium Development goals as a result of the cancellation!
We are not sure weather to laugh or cry! Since the emergence of the Obasanjo government in 1998, we have shouted to all that the “BUILDING” of health care centers, is no way to improve “HEALTH”. What is the planning for this? Who will manage them? Our local governments? What happens to all the monies invested already? What is the Yar’Adua government doing other than “cancelling”? HOW DO WE MOVE FORWARD in providing primary health care? What exactly is the role of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) – Nigeria….which has been building the famous “virtual” primary care centres around the country for the past 8 years of the previous government. While we await for an articulate, innovative primary health care development programme, with emphasis on quality and standards of care to be provided and not just buildings, we hope that these are not left in the hands of our so called “Local Governments”…or they are doomed to fail.


In addition to the virtual health care centers the single other marginally visible project is the refurbishment of the Nigeria’s teaching hospitals undertaken by the Obasanj
o government
in its 8 years of power. Yes…8 years!!!. This was awarded in 2002 to Albert Awofisayo, a socialite and prince of Ile-Ife and his company Vamed Engineering Austria at a total cost of N28.5 billion for the refurbishing of 14 Teaching Hospitals in Nigeria. It is believed that he got the contract through the support of the Obasanjo family to which he is said to be very close. This project has been controversial from the beginning. President of NARD, Dr. Adedamola Dada questioned the reduction of MRIs and delay in the execution of the project.According to The Guardian some of the installed state-of-the-art medical equipment procured for the hospitals are not in use, as there are not enough trained Nigerians to man the equipment, some of the equipment are yet to be installed, leaving them at the mercy of unfriendly weather.

However as this report in the Guardian describing “When Refurbished UNTH Came On Streams” shows….there is hope.


In early 1996, Nigeria was hit by the one of the worst meningitis epidemics in history. Government officials have placed the final death toll at over 11,000. At the time, Pfizer had just developed a new antibiotic called Trovan to treat a variety of infections. But Pfizer had a problem: In order to secure certification from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US, it still needed to conduct a clinical trial. The meningitis epidemic in Nigeria came at just the right moment. Since then it has been claims and counter claims. And more claims …and even more

We asked; Who is lying?, and 9 other questions
…we still have no answers.

6. POLIO…our Achilles heel..

Minister of Health, Professor Adenike Grange said the prospects of achieving the 2008 target of eradicating polio were bright, as the country for the first time since 2002, recorded a decline of 80 per cent in the number of children affected with wild polio virus between January and August 2007, compared to the same period in 2006. While still celebrating the possibility of success….THE NEWS BROKE! … that the biggest outbreak of vaccine-derived polio virus (known in the shorthand of polio as VDPVs) in the literature has been going on in Nigeria with 69 cases of children paralyzed by polio related to the virus in the vaccine. There had been rumours for months…. Why would an outbreak be going on for more than a year and a half and we have nothing at all about it until now? The bottom line is….whatever skepticism we might have about how the initial outbreak was handled, whatever our disappointment might be in the present communications strategy, our views (of which there are always plenty :))….WE CANNOT AFFORD TO DROP THE BALL, NOT NOW, AND NOT IN NIGERIA.


Nigeria is estimated to have the 3rd largest number of people living with HIV in the world after India and South Africa. On December 1, we wrote…While the rest of the world marked the World AIDS day, it seemed to have been marked with deafening silence in Nigeria. Our colleagues at JAAIDS informed us that this was not the case on radio and TV in Nigeria. We looked at the accounts of the Global Fund…and found out that of the US$9.9 billiomn committed worldwide, US$400,000,000 has been approved for projects in Nigeria. Find details of individual project allocations here.
Flipping through the dailies in Nigeria, it was good to note how HIV/AIDS prevention messages have evolved and developed ….from the days of “AIDS KILLS!”.


Yes…Osita Chidoka is. He tells us that 4,944 Nigerians were killed in 9,114 road accidents, while 17,390 were injured in 2006. We think that it is a gross underestimate. At this time of the year, the reports keep pouring in as here and here. O
ur ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo
described as ‘unacceptable’ the current statistics that show that over 32,000 lives are lost on our roads yearly…OK the numbers vary…but statistics have never been our strength in Nigeria. Our leaders are flown abroad for kidney ailments, knee injuries, …

Is it too much to ask for one efficient, equipped and resourced accident and emergency unit in each state?

Else we will continue reading stories like this


In December 2006 more than 260 people died after a gasoline pipeline tapped by thieves Abule Egba district of Lagos, Nigeria. Another 60 were severely burnt. . You would think that we would learn, but sadly….not. On exactly the same day in 2007, December 26th it was reported that 50 people were roasted alive yesterday at Adagbo village of Iru, Victoria Island local government Area of Lagos State. Why is life so cheap in our country. The image below was in TIME International, the world’s leading print brand for news and information, with a worldwide circulation of more than 5.4 million…With such publicity, no amount of image laundering will make our country a desirable one to visit.


Attending TEDGlobal was where the whole idea of a blog started! Unbelievable inspiration!

Akunyili @ 53. She proves that sometimes one person can make a difference.

Nigeria is finally moving against British American Tobacco.

The Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria awakens…

Igbinedion University , Nigeria’s first private university graduated its first set of 29 medical students.

Kanu Heart Foundation: Proving skeptics wrong

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

If you have found the information in this blog useful, join us in raising awareness on health issues in Nigeria. Send out the link, add to your favourites, subscribe to the RSS fee or email….and send in your comments.

Have a healthier 2008!


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.

Discussion1 Comment

  1. Wow…I just came across this blog by typing in “Nigerian Health” in the google bar.
    I’m a 1st year Masters Student in Pharmaceutical Science and I am at the stage were I have to choose a Thesis Project.
    I dont want to do research that will keep me from helping Nigeria.

    From this blog, I see Vaccines are highly needed in Africa. I hope my course adviser will have something for me in the area of vaccines. Maybe I could work on making the measles/rubella vaccines more potent,..I don’t know yet, but I’m definately going to work towards helping the people of our society.

    If you have any advice for me, please kindly send me an email

    I really want to help.

    Lolade Pearse

Leave A Reply