Abuja, Nigeria. December 1st, 2015 - A recent collaborative survey conducted by WeBelieve Health and NOIPolls Limited has revealed that most Nigerians (88%) and /or members of their households have visited a medical facility within the past year. The results showed that, over the last year, most Nigerians had visited public hospitals (53%), Pharmacies (43%), and private hospitals (34%); with a significant proportion of respondents visiting different facilities over the period. Interestingly, there were no significant differences in preference for medical facility by gender or age group. However, a significant proportion of respondents in the North-east (70%) and North-west (68%) visited public hospitals.
In addition, there was a slight preference for pharmacies in the South-south region (65%); although those who visited chemists at least once only composed 7% of our total respondents; while those who visited pharmacies made the most frequent visits (average of 6 visits over the last year). On the average, pharmacies were visited 5 times in the last year, while public and private hospitals were visited an average of 4 times. Most Nigerians (74%) travelled less than 30 minutes to the medical facilities they visited. Although respondents visited medical facilities for similar conditions, there were major differences in the average amount spent at the different facilities – Chemist (N1,365), Pharmacy (N1,879), Public Hospital (N3,204), and Private Hospital (N5,744).
With the absence of widespread use of electronic medical records, it has been difficult to compile data that gives an adequate representation of the utilization of healthcare services across the different facilities. As a result, NOIPolls and WeBelieve Health partnered to conduct this survey to serve as a surrogate for the patterns in the utilization of health facilities by Nigerians.
Many Nigerians lack access to affordable, high quality primary and urgent health care services. High costs and long distances to health care facilities can be major barriers to care. Unfortunately, it has been estimated that between 25 and 50% of all sick children and adults do not receive needed care.
Despite boasting the highest GDP in Africa, Nigeria’s overall health system performance was ranked 187th out of 191 countries by the WHO in 2000. Compared to other African countries, Nigeria ranks poorly along many health measures such as life expectancy, maternal mortality, measles immunization, and malaria mortality. In a recent national public health survey, only 23% of children between the ages of one and two had received all of the recommended vaccinations. Only 58% of women received antenatal care during pregnancy. Preventable diseases account for most of Nigeria’s disease burden.
In light of these challenges, NOIPolls, in conjunction with WeBelieve Health, conducted a poll to gauge the utilization of various health care services in Nigeria. WeBelieve Health is a healthcare delivery organization aimed at improving the health of Nigerian families by providing primary and urgent care services. Its mission is to increase access to quality care and continue to develop ideas that improve the system of healthcare delivery in Nigeria.
Respondents to the poll were asked about what illnesses led them to seek medical care in the last year, what facilities they sought care from, how long they traveled to get there, and how much they paid for medical services. They were also asked about how likely they would be to use an urgent care clinic in their community and how likely they would be to work with a health coach to better manage preventable illnesses and chronic conditions.
Overall, 88% of respondents or members of their households accessed some form of health care in the last year. 53% utilized a public hospital and 34% used a private hospital for medical services. 50% visited a pharmacist or chemist for a health care need. The majority of respondents visited these facilities between one and three times in the last year. Pharmacists and chemists were visited slightly more frequently than hospitals.
In order to understand what medical conditions were causing respondents and their family members to seek health care services, they were asked specifically about the following conditions: malaria, fever, cuts or wounds, headache, cold or cough, pregnancy, heart condition or blood pressure, diabetes, vomiting, and diarrhea. Malaria was the most common condition causing respondents and their families to seek medical care, followed by fever and headache. Pregnancy was also a common reason for respondents to seek hospital care. The majority of illnesses that brought respondents to the hospital, pharmacist, or chemist were acute medical problems. Chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, heart conditions, or diabetes were not common reasons for respondents to seek medical care.
74% of respondents traveled less than 30 minutes to seek medical care. 21% traveled between 30 minutes and one hour, and 5% traveled between one and two hours to get medical care. By geo-political zone, those living in the North-Central, South-South, and South-East were slightly more likely to travel farther to access health care. Younger respondents, those aged 18-25 years, were more likely to travel farther as well. Respondents were more likely to travel farther to access a private hospital, with approximately 33% of respondents traveled greater than 30 minutes to access private hospital services.
Private hospitals were also by far the most expensive services. The average amount of money spent on a private hospital visit was ₦5,744, versus ₦3,204 for public hospital services.
An urgent care facility is a walk-in clinic that provides health care outside of a traditional hospital. Urgent care clinics are usually located in offices and shopping complexes. Many respondents were amenable to receiving care from an urgent care facility staffed with specialist physicians. Poll results showed that 79% of respondents were very likely or likely to seek care from an urgent care center. By geo-political zone, those living in the North-East and North-West were the most willing to use an urgent care facility, whereas those living in the South-South were the least likely.
Some of the most common reasons mentioned by respondents who would likely choose an urgent care clinic were efficiency, proximity, and affordability. On the other hand, some respondents who would not consider using an urgent care facility reported that they already having access to a good hospital while expressing their fear of unprofessionalism in such facilities.
A health coach is a wellness authority and supportive mentor who partners with individuals and motivates them to make positive health choices. Respondents were very open to using a health coach if this service was included in a doctor’s visit at no extra charge. Health coaches educate and support clients to achieve their health goals through lifestyle and behavior adjustments. 88% of respondents are very likely or likely to use a health coach if available.
In conclusion, the results from this poll revealed that many Nigerians do access health care services every year despite barriers such as high cost. However, very little care is sought for primary prevention or treatment of chronic conditions. The majority of care is sought for urgent conditions, primarily malaria and fever. Most people use health care services that are less than 30 minutes away for these conditions, although some will travel farther to access private hospitals. Many Nigerians would be willing to use an urgent care facility for their health care needs if it were efficient, proximal, and affordable. Many Nigerians would also be interested in working with a health coach if it were offered as part of existing services, which could improve health choices and prevention of disease.
This poll was conducted in October 2015. It involved telephone interviews of a random nationwide sample of 1,000 people. Participants were randomly selected phone-owning Nigerians aged 18 years and above from the six geo-political zones in the country. Given this sample size, we can say with 95% confidence that the results obtained are statistically precise - within a range of plus or minus 3%. NOIPolls Limited is number one for country-specific polling services in Nigeria and West Africa. NOIPolls conducts periodic opinion polls and studies on various socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria. More information is available at www.noi-polls.com.
This press release has been produced by WeBelieve Health, and NOIPolls Limited to provide information on all issues which form the subject matter of the document. Kindly note that while we are willing to share results from our polls with the general public, we only request that NOIPolls and WeBelieve be acknowledged as authors whenever and wherever this poll results are used, cited or published.
NOIPolls hereby certifies that all the views expressed in this document accurately reflect its views of respondents surveyed for the poll, and background information is based on information from various sources that it believes are reliable; however, no representation is made that it is accurate or complete. Whilst reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document, no responsibility or liability is accepted for errors or fact or for any views expressed herein by NOIPolls for actions taken as a result of information provided in this report. Any ratings, forecasts, estimates, opinions or views herein constitute a judgment as at the date of this document. If the date of this document is not current, the views and content may not reflect NOIPolls’ current findings and/or thinking.
 The World Bank Group, Nigeria: Health, Nutrition, and Population Country Status Report, November 2005.
 National Population Commission. Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey, 2008.