According to the Population Reference Bureau, the population of Nigeria is expected to double, from 201.0 million to 401.3 million people in 2050, thus overtaking the United States of America. If you care about your health, that should matter to you. Here is why.
Nigeria has been at the bottom of many health indices in the world. The country is ranked among the top 10 countries with the worst maternal and child health indices in the world.
It is among the three countries that are still preventing the world from eradicating Polio, others being Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In terms of Infectious diseases, Nigeria is having a great share of the various epidemics.
It is, therefore, a great concern that the population is spiraling out of control because increasing population without a commensurate increase in resources to care for them is an invitation to disaster.
Besides, despite years of ‘investment’ in the health sector, nothing seems to have changed much. Arguably, some of the investments are just on paper and do not translate to actual investments in reality.
The elite, that have the power to ensure these investments actually get into the health sector, care less, or so it appears, as they always have alternatives in developed countries.
Health Beyond Health: Health Inequity In Nigeria
According to The Lancet Global Health Editorial, there are wider social determinants of health that are not prioritized in promoting health globally. The result is that there persists wide inequity in health. And Nigeria has a good share of this.
The WHO Commission on the Social Determinants of Health in their final report titled, Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health, recommended three ways to close the gap on health equity:
- improve the conditions in which people live;
- tackle the inequitable distribution of power, money, and resources; and
- measure inequity and the impact of policy and action on health equity.
Nigeria is still struggling to improve the living condition of her citizens and there is still so much to do in terms of wealth distribution, with just a few Nigerians holding on to the resources of the State.
According to Oxfam International, ‘a global movement of people who are fighting inequality to beat poverty together’, the combined wealth of five wealthiest Nigerians could end extreme poverty in Nigeria.
It is, therefore, concerning that that Nigeria’s population is racing at an annual growth rate of 3%, with more than half of the population under the age of 30. Matter-of-factly, Nigeria’s population is said to be the fastest-growing among countries that have a large population and will occupy the third position in terms of her population globally.
Unemployment and Poverty in Nigeria
Nigeria population puts huge stress on the meagre resources of the country, a resource that is already subject to huge financial pilfering.
The unemployment rate in Nigeria is 23.1% as of Q3 2018. Ghana, Nigeria’s close neighbour in West Africa has an unemployment rate of 6.71% in the same year.
Currently, Nigeria has more people living in extreme poverty than any other country in the world.
This poverty level in Nigeria is projected to remain a challenge with an anticipated National Poverty Headcount Ratio (NPHR) of 44. 5% in 2030 at the current rate and may get worse by 2050.
This means that approximately 113,697,552 of the total population of 255, 471, 855 million Nigerians will remain in extreme poverty by the year 2030, according to World Poverty Clock.
NPHR is the percentage of the population living below the national poverty lines. The poverty line for Nigeria is estimated at $1.90 per day.
It is also important to note that the year 2030 is the year the World anticipates that Sustainable Development Goals, that Nigeria is a signatory to, will be achieved.
Population Dynamics and Health
‘Nigeria is rich‘, ever heard that? That is the slogan. But the truth is that Nigeria is not rich without population control. Nigeria citizens must get that.
There is documented evidence of the close relationship between health and population. When the population is planned, then there is a better life for the people, including health.
Thus, population control is a key factor in improving the health of the people as it frees more resources to be invested in various sectors that constitute the social determinants of health.
Investing in efforts to control Nigeria population therefore means saving costs for the country.
Research has shown that when population growth slows down, it can yield savings on the “costs of providing health, clean water, sanitation, and social services.”
Guttmacher Institute noted that an investment in family planning would save cost for Nigeria, not just by controlling population by reducing money spent on maternal and child health care:
“Because the cost of preventing an unintended pregnancy through use of modern contraception is far lower than the cost of providing care for an unintended pregnancy, for each additional dollar spent on contraception would reduce the cost of maternal and newborn health care in Nigeria by $1.24.”Source: Adding It Up: Investing in Contraception and Maternal and Newborn Health in Nigeria, 2018| Guttmacher Institute