An expat guide to healthcare and health insurance in Nigeria

Are you researching an expat health insurance for Nigeria? It is important to learn about the local healthcare system first.

Nigeria has a dysfunctional healthcare system. It is therefore strongly recommended to take out international health insurance which includes evacuation or repatriation, before moving to Nigeria. 

Whether you are moving to Nigeria or you are already living there as an expat, read our guide to the Nigerian healthcare system, your different options of medical insurance for Nigeria and an overview of the average cost of local healthcare.

Health statistics

  • Total Population (2017): 190.9 million 
  • Gross national income per capita (PPP international $, 2017): 5,680
  • Life expectancy at birth m/f (years, 2016): 55/56
  • Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years m/f (per 1 000 population, 2016): 372/333
  • Total expenditure on health per capita (Intl $, 2014): 217
  • Total expenditure on health as % of GDP (2014) 3.7
Healthcare in Nigeria for expats

The inefficiency of the Nigerian healthcare system is one of the most serious problems in this West African country. The World Health Organisation conducted a study in 2010 which placed Nigeria’s healthcare as one of the worst in the world (ranked 187th out of 190 countries).

Nigeria’s health insurance plan (National Health Insurance Scheme – NHIS) is a system that was established in 1999 and intended to be universal. However, in practice, the system is flawed, and access to free and good quality healthcare for the entire population is limited.

Public health is greatly underfunded meaning a shortage both in facilities and medical personnel. Although public hospitals and medical centres are able to treat minor illnesses, it is advisable to be evacuated to other countries in the event of a more serious illness.

Those who can afford it, such as state employees and private sector employees, use their Nigerian health insurance for treatment abroad. This further decreases the funding towards public health in Nigeria.

Public hospitals are overcrowded and numerous infectious diseases develop there as a consequence of a lack of hygiene. Many Nigerians die in hospital from diseases such as cholera, tetanus, and polio, which develop due to poor hospital management. The low life expectancy of Nigerians reflects structural health problems of this country; it is only 55 years for men and 56 for women.

It is therefore recommended for expatriates to only receive consultations in private hospitals and clinics. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the conditions in private hospitals in Nigeria are still below the standards of most Western hospitals. Although private hospitals and clinics in urban areas are able to perform routine examinations and treat common health problems, these institutions may lack sufficient equipment and qualified medical personnel to diagnose and treat certain complex illnesses. Consequently, it is advised to travel to South Africa or Europe for specialist treatment.

It is therefore strongly recommended to take out international health insurance which includes evacuation or repatriation, before moving to Nigeria.

Beware of fraudulent doctors: there are many people in Nigeria operating without authorisation or training, posing as legitimate doctors. The safest way to avoid them is to always consult clinics and hospitals accredited by the state.

International health insurance for expats in Nigeria

An international health insurance policy is highly recommended in Nigeria, in order to seek treatment abroad in case of a serious medical problem. You should check with your insurance company or employer that your policy includes emergency evacuation abroad. Furthermore, most medical facilities require payment in advance. Health insurance helps to avoid having to make up-front payments, which can sometimes be very high.

Expat Assure helps you decide the most appropriate expat health insurance for Mexico depending on your situation and needs. Don’t hesitate to contact us for your personalised health insurance comparison.
What is the best health insurance for expats in Nigeria

The best health insurance in Mexico for one expat might not be the best for you as everyone has different needs and criteria.

 In order to find which one is the it is important to consider several aspects such as your medical history, your age, your specific needs in terms of medical cover, your situation in Mexico, alongside other parameters.

Expat Assure helps you to find the international medical insurance for Mexico that best suits your situation and requirements. Contact us today to request your free and non-obligatory health insurance comparison.

How much does healthcare cost in Nigeria

Consultation with a general practitioner or specialist private is between 10,000 and 40,000 Naira (£22-£87/$27.5-$110*) depending on the doctor and the institution chosen. This excludes the cost of treatment and medical examinations.

A hospital stay including one night in a single room costs between 30,000 and 100,000 Naira (£65-£218/$82-$275*). This includes the cost of treatment and medical examinations.

The cost of a medical evacuation is often tens of thousands of euros.

*December 2018 exchange rate

What is the cost of private health insurance in Nigeria?

Such as with any type of health insurance, the price of medical insurance for expats in Mexico varies greatly depending on the age, medical history, family composition of the applicant and other factors.

If you would like to have a precise estimation of the cost of international health insurance for Mexico, which applies to your specific situation and needs, we can prepare for you a personalised comparison of different international health insurance plans. Contact us today for your free health insurance comparison.

Practical information

Vaccination against yellow fever is necessary. Polio is also present in Nigeria. It is therefore recommended to ensure your vaccinations are up-to-date (diptheria, tetanus, polio). Vaccinations against hepatitis B, rabies, meningococcal meningitis, typhoid and MMR (measles/mumps/rubella) can be recommended based on the length of your trip. More information can be found on the NHS Fit for Travel website.

Malaria is present all year round, throughout the country. Read the recommendations on the NHS Fit for Travel website.

Ebola cases have been reported in Nigeria, which has since been officially declared free of the virus by the WHO in October 2014

Emergency numbers
Police 199
Ambulance 199
Fire service 190

It is advisable for expatriates to bring an ample supply of any prescription medication, as not all drugs are available in Nigeria. It is recommended to always use a recognised brand, as alternatives offered are not necessarily reliable. It is also important to be aware that fake medicines are also in circulation.

Useful sites
British High Commission in Abuja
British Deputy High Commission in Lagos (Consular and Visa sections)


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