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HEALTH CARE DURING THE STRUGGLE FOR INDEPENDENCE


As already stated, traditional medical practices are very much a part of the health care delivery system in Nigeria today as they were during and before the struggle for independence. Health care during the period of independence was oriented primarily to curative rather than preventive care. For example, as a result of the poor attempt to establish preventive programs, measles remained the greatest killer of children. By this time, the WHO had proven beyond reasonable doubt that proper execution of preventive programs can eradicate deadly diseases, and indeed, small pox was almost non-existent in Nigeria at this time.

In terms of access to health care services, it is estimated that in 1960 only 10-15% of the Nigerian population was covered by any form of modern health care services. Also, services were concentrated in the urban areas to the detriment of the rural areas. Consequently, whereas more than 50% of the urban population had access to health care, less than 5% of the rural population had comparable access. This pattern becomes more striking if one realizes that about 90% of the population was rural in 1960. The situation has not changed very much today, except that urban migration has increased, further tasking the existing urban facilities, making them ineffective and inadequate. Also, today there are more quacks parading as doctors all over the country with impunity, thanks to poorly regulated and underfunded system. We have no wherewithal to monitor and to weed them out of the system.

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