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Nigeria has one of the highest mortality rates in the world. From threatening diseases to accidents to malnutrition to natural deaths and various forms of sicknesses, daily records of death in Nigeria is nothing new. This has led to the WHO estimating Nigerians to have a life expectancy of 54.5 years.

With the poor state of health facilities in the country, it is no surprise that diseases rank as the leading cause of deaths in Nigeria. Arguably, HIV/AIDS remains the most widely feared by the populace, however, this has been found not to be the leading cause of death in the country. In this article, we will run down 10 of the most deadly diseases across Nigeria.

  1. Malaria: Malaria is the most disregarded disease in Nigeria, with majority resorting to self-medication whenever they come down with the disease. Nigeria is estimated to record about 100 million malaria cases every year, resulting in over 300,000 deaths, with 20% of the deaths in the country attributed to the disease. It is estimated that 97% of Nigerians are exposed to the risk of getting malaria, this is as a result of the poor management of the environment, as research has shown that the major proponents of malaria are stagnant water in gutters and drainages as well as a dirty environment.
  2. Lower Respiratory Infections: Lower respiratory infection sometimes also referred to as pneumonia is regarded as the second leading cause of deaths in Nigeria. Lower respiratory infections actually comprise of pneumonia (which is the most common of them all), bronchitis and bronchiolitis. It is estimated that of the 2,300 under-five children that die every day in Nigeria, 328 of them die from pneumonia and other lower respiratory infection. It is believed that lower respiratory infection causes 16% of deaths in Nigeria.
  3. HIV/AIDS: The mortality rate from HIV/AIDS has seen a serious decline from the staggering numbers which were reported during the early stages of its discovery. This decline has been as a result of the availability of anti-viral medications which are used to combat it. It is estimated that over 200,000 people die from HIV/AIDS-related issues yearly, making the percentage of deaths from HIV in Nigeria to be put at 9%.
  4. Diarrhoeal Diseases: H.O. in 2017 published a data stating that Diarrhoeal disease deaths in Nigeria had reached 186,218. Diarrhoea is regarded as the second leading killer of children under the age of five, which goes to show the vulnerability of children in Nigeria. Diarrhoea is caused by a host of bacterial, viral and parasitic organisms most of which are spread by feces-contaminated water. Diarrhoea results to over 5% of all deaths in Nigeria.
  5. Cancer: Cancer is regarded as one of the leading causes of death worldwide as cases and deaths from the disease keep rising. Some of the key factors that have led to the growth of cancer especially in Nigeria has been the increasing exposure to known cancer risk factors such as tobacco, unhealthy diets, alcohol, and environmental pollutants. A lot of Nigerians travel abroad to get medical treatment for cancer from advanced cancer hospitals. It is estimated that four out of five cancer cases in Nigeria lead to deaths. Statistically, cancer is estimated to be responsible for 3% of all deaths in Nigeria.
  6. Meningitis: Meningitis is a deadly infection that affects the delicate membranes known as meninges which cover the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis is believed to be mostly caused by a viral infection, however, bacterial, parasitic and fungal infections are also known to cause the disease. Meningitis is estimated to be responsible for about 3% of deaths in Nigeria.
  7. Stroke (Cerebrovascular disease): Stroke is a situation that occurs when there is a loss of blood supply to a part of the brain which could either result from blockage or rupture of a blood vessel commonly known as Ischaemic or Haemorrhagic stroke respectively.

It is estimated that one person in Nigeria dies from stroke every two minutes and stroke is believed to have a mortality rate of between 120 and 240 per 100,000 population. Stroke is also believed to be responsible for about 3% of deaths in Nigeria.

  1. Tuberculosis: Tuberculosis is a highly infectious disease that is known to mainly affect the lungs. Tuberculosis is usually transferred from person to person through the release of tiny droplets of the bacteria into the air via cough and sneezes.

The 2017 Global TB Report estimated that 18 Nigerians die of tuberculosis every hour, totaling about 432 deaths daily. Tuberculosis has a death rate of 63 per 100,000 people, it is also estimated to be responsible for about two percent (2%) of deaths in Nigeria.

  1. Diabetes: Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease caused by a deficiency in the production of insulin by the pancreas. This deficiency results in increased concentrations of glucose in the blood, which can, in turn, lead to damages in the body’s system. The prevalence estimate of diabetes in Nigeria is put at9%.
  2. Measles: Measles is a highly contagious viral disease caused by an infection with Rubeola virus. Nigeria recorded over 132,000 cases of measles between 2012 and 2016, with a total of 817 deaths recorded over that same time span. Measles has also been found to have the ability to harm the front or back of the eye, possibly resulting to vision loss or blindness.

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