With all vital sectors of Nigeria grappling with challenges, the health sector definitely has its own share of problems. Ranging from underfunding to corruption and infrastructural deficit, the problems of healthcare in Nigeria have long affected the quality of care in the country.

Healthcare is a paramount factor which contributes to the quality of life in any country of the world. In Nigeria however, the state of healthcare is unfavourable and while accusing fingers have been pointed to the Nigerian government, health workers in the country also have their own share of the blame.

This article revolves around the issue of healthcare in Nigeria. While the article recommends solutions to the 10 major problems of healthcare in the country, it also describes each of these problems.

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Finally, here are the 10 major healthcare problems in Nigeria as well as the best solutions recommended for tackling them:

1.Shortage of Funds

It is no news that too many hospitals in Nigeria are poorly funded. Particularly, government-owned hospitals in the country usually run short of basic necessities including stable power supply and uninterrupted water supply. This is because the hospitals’ administration units often lack the financial capability to provide these necessities.

At Nigerian public hospitals, the administration units are usually underfunded and this makes it difficult for hospital administrators to hire adequate number of unskilled staff such as cleaners. Even in cases where such staff are hired, the hospitals struggle to remunerate them as and when due and inevitably, the hospitals eventually run short of cleaners.

Underfunding –especially in public hospitals across the country –is a very critical problem that often triggers several other problems facing the country’s healthcare system.

Recommended solution: Special investigation should be conducted into the funding of Nigerian public hospitals. Adequate monitoring should also be ensured after the release of funds to the managers of the hospitals.

2.Problem of Poor Infrastructure

In terms of infrastructural makeup, many public hospitals in Nigeria are nothing to write home about. It is either the hospitals are fraught with dilapidated buildings or some of their departments lack the basic necessitates for the delivery of quality healthcare.

Poor infrastructure may also surface in the fashion of badly constructed public facilities around the hospitals. For example, the roads leading to some hospitals in Nigeria are so terrible that motorists struggle while traversing them. Also, some public hospitals in the country lack standby generators and water tanks. In some cases however, they are not adequately equipped with such facilities.


Recommended solution: Attention should be paid to hospitals with poor infrastructural facilities. Where required, renovation should be approved for hospital buildings that are in disrepair. Roads leading to hospitals should also be repaired if not in good condition.


3.Bad Work Attitude

The work attitude of many Nigerian health workers is something to worry about. Again and again, it has been observed that many Nigerian doctors at public hospitals do not make themselves available as expected. Such doctors are constantly found devoting time and attention to their own hospitals at the expense of the government-owned hospitals where they work.

Instead of waiting to attend to patients, some of these doctors come to the hospitals as early as possible only to check in. This is why the population of available doctors at public hospitals is usually disproportionate to the vast number of patients visiting the hospitals. Sadly, patients usually have to wait for long hours before they can see the doctors who are supposed to attend to them.

The delayed opening time of health workers at the primary healthcare level is also a pointer to the bad work attitude of Nigerian health workers. Some of these health workers are given to the habit of showing up very late or failing to show up at their respective centres.

Recommended solution: Inspection committees should be set up by the government and deployed to various hospitals in the country. Doctors found to have absented themselves without any pardonable reason(s) should be severely punished.


4.Shortage of Medications

Many Nigerian pharmacies (including the pharmaceutical units of some public hospitals) usually run short of the appropriate drugs that patients need in dire conditions. Upon diagnosing patients, doctors prescribe certain drugs to the patients but one great problem the patients may face is difficulty in finding the appropriate medications for their ailments.

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Public hospitals are poorly funded with drugs and while this forces patients to look elsewhere for the prescribed drugs, they may struggle to get them or pay inordinately for the scarce ones.

Recommended solution: The pharmaceutical units of Nigerian public hospitals should be adequately equipped with drugs. Also, doctors found to have illegally moved drugs out of the units should be severely punished.

5.Preponderance of Ill-mannered Health Workers

We do have good-mannered health workers in Nigeria but the population of the ill-mannered counterparts is seemingly greater. Many doctors and nurses in the country do not possess the etiquette required for medical practices. Some of them are ill-tempered while many others address patients just as it pleases them.

Particularly at public Nigerian hospitals, not many doctors and/or nurses show concern about the wellbeing of patients. Many of these health workers are said to have discriminated against patients on grounds of financial status, tribe, etc.

Inasmuch as ill-mannered doctors and nurses continually dominate Nigeria’s healthcare system, the quality of healthcare delivery will be badly affected and patients will remain victimized.

Recommended solution: Hospital managers and leaders in the country should be saddled with the responsibility of weeding out ill-mannered doctors and/or nurses who have been found guilty of several cases of ill treatment. Nurses/doctors found to have maltreated patients, but only once, should be strongly cautioned against doing so. Also, they should be made to understand that they would be struck off their jobs if found guilty again.



6.Absence of HVAC across Hospitals

HVAC is an acronym for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (system). Sadly however, this system is lacking in many Nigerian hospitals.

The internal atmosphere of some Nigerian hospitals gives room for microbial contamination. This is because the hospitals are not well ventilated and in the end, healthy individuals therein could become infected.


Recommended solution: Hospitals across the country should be provided with HVAC systems. After funds have been released for the provision of these systems, inspection panels should be set up to ensure the funds are put to the required use.


7.Shortage of Medical Facilities

This is a critical problem observable in both public and private hospitals in Nigeria, although the incidence is much greater at public hospitals.

Crucial facilities are usually lacking in public hospitals and in some cases, many of the few crucial facilities available are in bad condition. Due to this shortage of medical facilities, some hospitals (including government-owned health centres) in the country commonly refer patients to other hospitals.

This might not turn out well as well-equipped hospitals in the country are relatively few. When too many patients are referred to such hospitals, the hospitals become overwhelmed and the medical staff therein may struggle to meet up with the resulting high demand.

Recommended solution: Medical facilities should be supplied to all government-owned hospitals in the country. The Nigerian government should run a need assessment programme intended to find out the needs of each public hospital.


8.Inadequate Training of Health Workers

In Nigeria, too many on-the-job health workers lack the appropriate knowledge of healthcare delivery. Sadly, these people are the products of the Nigerian university system where excessive attention is paid to theories at the expense of practicals.

Medical laboratories across Nigerian public universities are under-equipped and the underlying disadvantage of this is that medical students end up with limited practical exposure. On many occasions, it’s been observed that at these laboratories, the available equipment is terribly insufficient in relation to the population of students being taught at the laboratories.

Recommended solution: Training programmes should be organized for on-the-job health workers in the country. Also, the government should adequately equip laboratories across Nigerian public universities. Special care should be given to the universities’ curricula to ensure students of medical and clinical courses are given adequate practical exposure.


9.Delayed Remuneration of Health Workers

Industrial action –specifically strike –is a common happening in the Nigerian health sector. Usually, there is no other reason for this than the fact that the Nigerian government sometimes delays in paying the salaries of health workers in the country.

Health workers threaten to embark on strike and when their demands seem to have fallen on the deaf ears of the government, they eventually embark on strike. While delayed remuneration discourages doctors and nurses from working, patients are certainly the ones who bear the brunt of the resulting disaster. When health workers fail to report for duties, patients will have nobody to treat them and those with mild conditions might worsen in health.

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Recommended solution: The salaries and other monetary dues of health workers in the public sector should be paid fully and in time. Also, the Nigerian government should take necessary measures in preventing hospital managers from shortchanging their staff.

10.The Problem of Corruption

Corruption is a cankerworm facing Nigeria’s vital sectors, without the exception of the health sector.

The Nigerian health sector is flooded with dishonest individuals at both levels of management and care delivery. Some hospital leaders and managers in the country often shortchange subordinate nurses and doctors.

When the government releases funds from which salaries and other dues are to be paid, some hospital managers hardly pay their doctors and nurses in full. As a means of getting back what they think they deserve, the doctors and nurses resort to corrupt practices.

A good example (of these corrupt practices) is the case of fake diagnosis reported about the healthcare unit of an anonymous Nigerian university. Health workers in that unit were said to have reported false HIV/AIDS diagnosis in order to get government’s approval for the release of more antiretroviral drugs to the unit.

Since their diagnosis was fake, Nigerian health workers in such an unethical act would likely end up selling the excess antiretroviral drugs at their disposal. As an experienced Nigerian must have thought, this is just one of the various corrupt practices by health workers in the country.

Recommended solution: A combination of all the previously recommended solutions should serve as a remedy for the problem of corruption in the Nigerian health sector. The government should provide all that is required from them. They should also checkmate the activities of hospital leaders and managers shortchanging their subordinates or dishing out other forms of maltreatment to them. If this is done, (subordinate) doctors and nurses may not be tempted to carry out corrupt practices.


There are several other problems facing healthcare in Nigeria but based on findings, we’ve tried to discuss the major ones and recommended solutions. If the recommended solutions are implemented, the quality of healthcare in Nigeria will significantly improve.

About BetterHelp

Technical Editor/ Writer for Mitrobe Network. Trying harder to be as precise and efficacious as possible via creative publications.

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