Although Nigeria has made tangible progress on a number of health and wellness indicators in recent years, the socio-economic and medical impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic took their toll, and the country continues to grapple with challenges related to its public health system and the rollout of universal health care (UHC).

The federal government is a central player in health care provision in the country. One of its key roles in the medical sphere is to provide a regulatory framework in collaboration with the health systems of individual states and local governments. Nigeria’s 36 states and state-controlled local government entities are responsible for primary and secondary health care services for their populations, mainly by managing general hospitals and primary health care centres.

According to data published by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMH), as of mid-2021 there were 40,368 hospitals and clinics in operation in Nigeria, split between 10,900 private facilities (27% of the total) and 29,468 public facilities (73%). Of this total, 85.2% were primary care facilities, 14.4% offered secondary care and 0.4% provided specialised, tertiary care.

With Nigeria’s large and young population, the longer-term prospects for private sector investment in the health care sector are promising, and the pandemic has created new opportunities for expansion and innovation.

Indeed, given the continuing mismatch between the country’s health infrastructure needs and available public funding, there is substantial scope for private sector participation in capital projects in the years ahead. Private players providing high-quality medical services at new and existing facilities, as well as supportive financing, could help overcome the limitations of the public system and may ultimately lead to more Nigerians remaining in-country when seeking treatment.

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