Nigeria has an estimated total of 23,640 health facilities according to the Federal Ministry of Health census of 2005. While more health care facilities have been built in recent years, it appears more churches and mosques are opened in Nigeria than hospitals. There is under-investment in health care infrastructure, and the Nigerian government needs to do more if the country is to achieve most of the health-related SDGs.
Walk down a street in many parts of the continent, you are bound to find a good number of churches and mosques. In Nigeria a lot of the areas which boast of many churches and mosques do not have good roads, and most importantly, access to primary healthcare is a challenge for some who attend these religious institutions.
In a country where religion is the new way to gain quick wealth, the liberty of opening churches seems to be going unchecked. The health of many Nigerians is dependent on pastors, God and miraculous healings. The God of impossibility will change the doctor’s report, many of the pastor’s boast.
A World Health Organisation (WHO) report on the Nigerian health system showed that in 2005, Uganda allocated 11% of its budget to health, while Nigeria, in 2006 allocated only 5.6%. in 2001, Nigeria was part of the countries in the African Union (AU) whose Heads of State signed the Abuja Declaration in which 15% of the budget allocation would go to the health sector. According to a local newspaper, since the declaration in 2001, Nigeria’s highest budget allocation to health was in 2012, with only 5.95% given to the health sector.
An inadequate budget allocation is not the only challenge facing the Nigerian health sector. Lack of doctors is also plaguing the health system. The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) reported that 40% of medical doctors in Nigeria were jobless. It is not surprising to see so many doctors leaving the country for greener pastures. While the NMA called the exodus of doctors alarming, Nigeria’s former Minister for Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige had said Nigeria had enough doctors and those leaving would bring in foreign exchange.
Bishop David Oyedepo, the founder of Living Faith Church built the largest church on the continent with a capacity of 50, 000 people. His compatriot, Paul Eneche who founded the Dunamis International Gospel surpassed Oyedepo’s effort and is building a 100, 000 auditorium which is believed to be the largest in the world. While both pastors are reaping the benefits of prosperity gospel, the Nigerian government’s priorities are also misplaced with the funding of pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem, holy lands that ordinary Nigerians are bent on going to.
In 2017, the state governments in Nigeria spent over $376,774,125 in sponsoring Nigerian muslims to hajj. While schools and hospitals lack the basics, religion has overtaken every activity in the country. One can count the number of hospitals that are opened in a year in the country on one hand as compared to churches. As trouble looms in the health sector, and Nigerian hospitals continue to struggle due to lack of adequate equipment and financing, perhaps only God will help the country and its people.