Fact-checked: Al Jazeera’s claims about Nigeria’s ‘mental health problem’

9 March, 2020

Perhaps the most neglected part of Nigeria's Health System, after the PHC tier, is mental health. We read the analysis published by Al Jezeera media about the myths and untruths surrounding the Nigeria health system and are very thrilled to have found such a study. Please read it in full -

'Published: 19 November 2019 09:23 | Last updated: 20 November 2019 10:23 (GMT)Subscribe to reports

Fact-checked: Al Jazeera’s claims about Nigeria’s ‘mental health problem’

[Note from HIFA moderator (NPW): Extracts below. Read in full online: https://africacheck.org/reports/fact-checked-al-jazeeras-claims-about-ni... ]


11 claims about Nigeria’s 'mental health problem'

Source: News organisation Al Jazeera (10 October 2019)


Three correct or mostly correct, one misleading, two unproven, five incorrect

- In an online report published on World Mental Health Day, media organisation Al Jazeera drew bleak conclusions about the state of mental health care in Nigeria.

- It focused on among other areas the number of hospitals, staffing and funding.

- While there is little doubt that mental illness is poorly resourced in Nigeria as in many other countries, accurate information about the depth of the challenge can only strengthen the public debate around solutions

Researched by Motunrayo Joel and David Ajikobi

On World Mental Health Day on 10 October 2019, Qatar-headquartered news organisation Al Jazeera focused on Nigeria.

In an online report with the headline ‘Nigeria has a mental health problem’, the broadcaster made several claims. In July 2019, Al Jazeera also reported that Nigeria had a “mental health crisis”.

In an effort to improve the accuracy of public debate on mental health in Nigeria, often an under-reported topic, we checked the accuracy of a number of claims made in the most recent report.

1. Claim: One in four Nigerians are suffering from some sort of mental illness.

Verdict: unproven [...]

2. Claim: There are only eight neuropsychiatric hospitals in Nigeria.

Verdict: incorrect [...]

3. Claim: Nigeria has Africa’s highest rate of depression.

Verdict: incorrect [...]

4. Claim: Nigeria ranks fifth in the world in the frequency of suicide.

Verdict: incorrect [...]

5. Claim: There are less than 150 psychiatrists in this country of 200 million.

Verdict: incorrect [...]

6. Claim: WHO estimates that fewer than 10% of mentally ill Nigerians have access to the care they need.

Verdict: correct [...]

7. Claim: Yaba Psychiatric Hospital had a 2018 budget of N133 million (US$372,000) - but only N13 milliion ($36,000), or less than 10% of that amount, was released by the federal government.

Verdict: unproven [...]

8. Claim: By 2018, Nigeria had allocated just 3.95% of its budget to funding its ministry of health.

Verdict: correct [...]

9. Claim: Every week, at least 12 doctors leave Nigeria to seek employment in the UK.

Verdict: incorrect [...]

10. Claim: Nigeria has an estimated physician-patient ratio of one doctor to every 4,000 to 5,000 patients.

Verdict: mostly-correct [...]

11. Claim: [This is] six times smaller than the physician-patient ratio (one physician to every 600 doctors) recommended by WHO.

Verdict: misleading [...]


Joseph Ana


@Health Resources International (HRI) WA.

National Implementing Organisation: 12-Pillar Clinical Governance

National Standards and Quality of care Monitor and Assessor

National Implementing Organisation: PACK Nigeria Programme for PHC

Publisher: Medical and Health Journals; Books and Periodicals.

Nigeria: 8 Amaku Street, State Housing & 20 Eta Agbor Road, Calabar.

Tel: +234 (0) 8063600642

Website: www.hriwestafrica.com email: jneana@yahoo.co.uk ; hriwestafrica@gmail.com

HIFA profile: Joseph Ana is the Lead Consultant and Trainer at the Africa Centre for Clinical Governance Research and Patient Safety in Calabar, Nigeria. In 2015 he won the NMA Award of Excellence for establishing 12-Pillar Clinical Governance, Quality and Safety initiative in Nigeria. He has been the pioneer Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) National Committee on Clinical Governance and Research since 2012. He is also Chairman of the Quality & Performance subcommittee of the Technical Working Group for the implementation of the Nigeria Health Act. He is a pioneer Trustee-Director of the NMF (Nigerian Medical Forum) which took the BMJ to West Africa in 1995. He is particularly interested in strengthening health systems for quality and safety in LMICs. He has written Five books on the 12-Pillar Clinical Governance for LMICs, including a TOOLS for Implementation. He established the Department of Clinical Governance, Servicom & e-health in the Cross River State Ministry of Health, Nigeria in 2007. Website: www.hriwestafrica.com Joseph is a member of the HIFA Steering Group and the HIFA working group on Community Health Workers.



Email: jneana AT yahoo.co.uk