Government, Social Services
cerebrospinal meningitis, social welfare system, whooping cough, infant mortality rate, measles
Nigeria has no state-supported social welfare system. Instead, most people rely on their extended families in difficult times and in old age. Medical care is provided to government employees and to most workers in large industrial and commercial enterprises, but it is wanting among the rest of the population. Despite several attempts at reform, one-third of Nigerians lack access to primary health care, in large part because the great majority of treatment centers are located in large cities. Facilities are often understaffed, underequipped, and low on medications and other medical supplies. Patients must generally pay user fees and buy their own supplies and medications, which they often cannot afford.
The result has been an infant mortality rate of 72 per 1,000 live births and a life expectancy of 51 years. Malaria is the leading cause of death and is likely to remain so, due to the growing resistance both of the malarial parasite to drugs as well as of the mosquito, which transmits malaria, to insecticides. Other preventable ills that the government has been unable to halt include measles, whooping cough, polio, cerebrospinal meningitis, gastroenteritis, diarrhea, tuberculosis, bronchitis, waterborne infectious diseases such as schistosomiasis, and sexually transmitted diseases. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has yet to become as significant a cause of sickness and death as it is in several other parts of Africa, but infection with the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS is becoming more prevalent and is expected to exact an increasing toll.
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