The life expectancy in Nigeria falls short of the global average by almost 15 years.
But before we take a look at why the country’s life expectancy is so low, let’s find out what life expectancy really is.
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
Nigeria’s Life Expectancy: How It Changed Over Time
Let’s take a look at the life expectancy trend in Nigeria since 1960.
- Year Value
- 1960 38.45
- 1961 38.89
- 1962 39.32
- 1963 39.72
- 1964 40.11
- 1965 40.48
- 1966 40.84
- 1967 41.20
- 1968 41.57
- 1969 41.94
- 1970 42.34
- 1971 42.75
- 1972 43.17
- 1973 43.61
- 1974 44.06
- 1975 44.51
- 1976 44.96
- 1977 45.41
- 1978 45.85
- 1979 46.26
- 1980 46.63
- 1981 46.93
- 1982 47.15
- 1983 47.31
- 1984 47.39
- 1985 47.40
- 1986 47.38
- 1987 47.33
- 1988 47.27
- 1989 47.23
- 1990 47.19
- 1991 47.16
- 1992 47.13
- 1993 47.09
- 1994 47.05
- 1995 47.01
- 1996 46.99
- 1997 46.98
- 1998 47.00
- 1999 47.07
- 2000 47.19
- 2001 47.40
- 2002 47.69
- 2003 48.07
- 2004 48.52
- 2005 49.02
- 2006 49.56
- 2007 50.09
- 2008 50.61
- 2009 51.10
- 2010 51.56
- 2011 52.00
- 2012 52.43
- 2013 52.86
- 2014 53.30
- 2015 53.76
- 2016 53.40
It is clear that the life expectancy value has been growing steadily since 1960 which indicates that there have been improvements in the indicators contributing to a longer life.
Nonetheless, the steady growth in life expectancy in Nigeria cannot be compared to some developed countries in America, Asia and Europe. Countries like Luxembourg, Israel, France, Australia and South Korea have the highest life expectancy value in the world at over 82 years.
Based on the life expectancy value, Nigeria is ranked 216 in the world, and 16th in Africa. However, this LE value and the country’s ranking is expected to increase over the next few years. By 2020, the average life expectancy in Nigeria will rise to 55.23 years ranking the country 214 globally and 14th in Africa.
By 2030, the figure is predicted to be 59.20 years (ranking 212) and by 2050 hit 68.15 (ranking 209 globally and 9th in Africa).
The prevalent issues responsible for the low life expectancy value can be traced to specific economic, social and developmental indices. These problems include poor nutrition, high maternal mortality as well as high infant mortality.
Why Nigeria’s Life Expectancy is Low
In this post, we take a look at the major cause of the low life expectancy in Nigeria
Malaria, tuberculosis and HIV are the leading causes of death in Nigeria. The country suffers the world’s greatest malaria burden, with approximately 51 million cases and 207,000 deaths reported annually. Consequently, the country bears approximately 30% of the total malaria burden in Africa.
Also, 97% of the 180 million Nigerians are at risk of infection and the disease accounts for 60 % of outpatient visits to hospitals and has led to approximately 11% maternal mortality and 30% child mortality, especially among children less than 5 years.
The causative organism of Malaria is Plasmodium falciparum, and the mosquitoes Anopheles gambiae, Anopheles funestus, Anopheles arabiensis, and Anopheles moucheti which are also the major vectors causing year-round transmission; artemether-lumefantrine (AL) or artesunate + amodiaquine (AS + AQ) is the treatment regime adopted in 2004.
Malaria affects the economic productivity in Nigeria, resulting in an estimated monetary loss of approximately N132 billion in treatment costs, prevention, and other indirect costs.
Also, the lack of potable has contributed to the incidence of certain diseases in the country. Currently, 45% of the country’s population has no access to clean water in Africa. This is why there is a prevalence of diarrhoea and water-borne diseases.
Overall, diseases account for 26% of the death cases in Nigeria.
To increase life expectancy rate with regards to reducing the incidence of diseases, the government must provide quality health care policies and think of sustainable healthcare financing. Also, strengthening the primary health care system in order to serve the population is fundamental.
Poverty is another prominent cause of the low life expectancy in Nigeria and it is responsible for 24% of the death in the country. It is estimated that close to 90 million Nigerians live in extreme poverty. This means that Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world with 46.7% of the country’s population considered as poor.
Interestingly, Nigeria has one of the highest economic growth rates in the world but this has been unable to stem the tide of poverty in the country. Some of the major causes of poverty in Nigeria are political instability, income inequality and ethnic conflict.
Additionally, the lack of a stringent regulatory and monitoring system has allowed for rampant corruption which has effectively hindered past poverty alleviation efforts to a large extent, since the resources which could pay for public goods or directed towards investment (and so create employment and other opportunities for citizens) are being misappropriated.
Overall, the government’s poor economics play quite a huge role in the low life expectancy of Nigeria, for example, there are issues of salaries not being paid on time and with the remuneration of these civil servants being denied, when there are health challenges, it is difficult to access quality medical care.
The unemployment rate in Nigeria is estimated at 18.8% which makes it difficult for these unemployed individuals to fend for themselves and access the necessary healthcare when they fall ill. This has contributed to the high level of poverty in the country.
The government can improve the literacy level in the country by providing free and affordable education at least secondary level
Another major cause is the literacy level in the country. Often times, when people fall ill, the resorted to native medicine which may not be able to cure their illness and they end up losing their lives. Also, uneducated Nigerians are often skeptical about vaccination which has led to high infant mortality in some parts of the country.
Generally, the level of education is directly correlated to the life expectancy of any country.
Other causes of low life expectancy include: motor accident (16%); natural death (6%); stress (5%); high blood pressure (5%); poor medical care (3%); bad lifestyle (2%); high cost of living (2%), negligence amongst other.
Improving the life expectancy value in Nigeria can be done by tackling the major problems facing the population of the country. Some of these solutions include increasing job creation, creating employment opportunities, increasing the minimum wage for workers, and stabilizing the country’s micro and macro economy by implementing the right policies.