Learn About Nigeria Healthcare System & Insurance Options for Expats
If you are a digital nomad planning to relocate to Nigeria, first, learn about the local healthcare system of this country. The ever-rising cultural, religious, and economic turmoil, has put Nigeria in a high-risk zone. Furthermore, the country is still recovering from the civil war.
The terrorism of Boko Haram is still widely prevalent in North Nigeria. There have been reports on pirate attacks off the coast of Nigeria near its oil rigs and shipping ports. Those areas are unstable and subject to conflict, which makes opting for life insurance imperative. If you are an expat in Nigeria, it is imperative to obtain the right international health insurance.
The lack of good quality healthcare in Nigeria makes the medical system quite dysfunctional. In such a scenario, it becomes imperative to have an international health insurance plan that covers repatriation and evacuation. The public hospitals, local dispensaries, and non-governmental clinics and private hospitals do co-exist. Unfortunately, very few of them offer quality facilities, equipment, or trained medical professionals.
Overview of Healthcare System
Due to the government’s limited ability to fund and organize medical systems, the public healthcare system in Nigeria has become worse. The country is experiencing a lack of sufficient funds and inadequate resources. Even trained medical staff are leaving the country to find better opportunities. Diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS continue to be endemic for Nigerians. The government of Nigeria has put in place the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) for people serving the government and other sectors. However, private insurers provide health coverage.
Over the years, the quality of medical care has deteriorated. The Nigerian government has been prompt in taking measures to improve the health of its citizens by supplying vaccinations and taking other public health initiatives. Still, overall the healthcare provisions and medical facilities remain poor. Some private hospitals in metropolitan cities like Lagos and Abuja deliver excellent medical care. But in case of a severe illness or injury, expats would require medical evacuation to South Africa or Europe.
Health Risks in Nigeria
Some diseases, such as cholera, malaria, and polio, are still rampant in Nigeria and are the most significant cause of death. Malaria, especially, remains a cause of concern. Expats are faced with the perplexity of whether to take malaria prophylaxes or not. Long-term use of these drugs is not recommended as they have serious side effects. Additionally, these drugs suppress the symptoms of malaria, which, further, hinder its proper treatment. Tuberculosis and HIV are also widespread across the country, and diarrhea is a common ailment amongst expats.
How the Nigerian Healthcare Works for Expats?
According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization, the healthcare system in Nigeria is one of the worst in the world. The inefficiency of the medical and healthcare system in this West African country poses a serious problem. Before traveling or moving to Nigeria, expats must be well aware of the private healthcare facilities available in the major towns and cities. Even when public healthcare facilities are available, there is a limit in the provision and may require extensive medical care, deportation to the home country, or immediate medical evacuation in case of an emergency. Therefore, we advise expats to receive consultations only at private clinics and hospitals.
Even though the quality of most private hospitals are far below standard than the Western hospitals, expats must consult them as they can perform routine examinations and address common health problems well. But these institutions may lack qualified medical personnel and appropriate diagnostic equipment to diagnose and treat complex illnesses. The Expat Financial health insurance offers full coverage to fully protect you during contingencies while living or working in Nigeria.
Public Healthcare in Nigeria
The universal National Health Insurance Scheme was established in Nigeria. However, there is an inherent flaw in the system. Citizens are unable to access even medium-quality healthcare. The state-sponsored public hospitals are not sufficiently funded. While treatments are available in public hospitals for minor illnesses, serious injuries require medical evacuation. People working for the private sector or the government can use their Nigerian health insurance for receiving treatment abroad. It has led to a further decline of funding towards public health in Nigeria. Due to overcrowding of infected patients, public hospitals are unable to keep up with the hygiene. Many people die in hospitals from curable diseases like polio, cholera, and malaria.
Private Healthcare in Nigeria
For minor issues and routine check-ups, the private clinics and hospitals in the urban areas of Nigeria are reasonably good. Doctors and nurses in private institutions may lack the expertise of the medical field and the equipment to diagnose complex medical problems. Expats in the want of severe treatment should obtain the right health insurance and consider traveling to countries providing better healthcare facilities.
Emergency Medical Services in Nigeria
The emergency response time is notoriously slow in Nigeria. Although coverage in rural areas is sparse, numerous private medical emergency services are available in the country. It is, therefore, essential that expats have access to comprehensive health insurance plans that also include air evacuation.
Medicines and Pharmacies
Almost all cities in Nigeria have pharmacies. But there’s a deficit in drug stocks. We advise expats to bring an adequate supply of prescribed medication if they require it. The generic brands of over-the-counter medicines in the country may not necessarily be trustworthy.
Best Private International Medical Insurance Plans for Expats in Nigeria
Although the healthcare system in Nigeria has drastically improved, expats are still recommended to obtain an international health insurance plan from companies with a global footprint and global coverage. Expat Financial is a resourceful insurance firm with a wealth of experience in providing adequate coverage to expats in Nigeria.