Emergency services in Nigeria

911..I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with the 3 digit number I just mentioned.

It’s the emergency number in the US and I guess you heard it from movies.

The few times I have heard anything like an emergency number to reach the Nigerian Police it’s been regular 11 digit numbers.

I doubt there are numbers for health emergencies working anywhere in Nigeria.

You now see why a huge prayer point for many Nigerians is “may we not experience a health emergency”.

It’s safe to say that response to emergencies is pretty poor in Nigeria. From crime to fire and very importantly health.

Emergency services will always be an important part of healthcare delivery but sadly it’s barely even talked about.

If it was a priority one wonders why there is no toll free emergency number for health services in 2019!!

It’s expected that medical facilities be evenly spread around the country such that emergency services can be provided by each hospital to its immediate environment but sadly that isn’t the case.

It’s even disheartening that many hospitals do not have functional ambulances that are available 24/7.

No drivers on standby, no fuel, damaged equipments in the ambulances are the usual issues faced and it begs the question;

What is the value of a Nigerian life?

So what do we see daily?

We see everyday Nigerians struggling to use their personal vehicles to convey accident victims or individuals having a medical emergency to the hospital.

Even when it’s obvious that working ambulances would have done a better job coupled with trained health professionals to ensure such victims stay alive to access better care on getting to the hospital.

The emergency responses at Nigerian hospitals leave much to be desired and it’s simply a symptom of the system wide decay.

There have been sad stories of patients still losing their lives simply because they weren’t attended to promptly due to;

– The limited number of health professionals available
– No space for patient to be admitted
– Cumbersome procedures for admitting patients
– Lack of some Emergency medications (yes it can be that bad)

Yes, we are very optimistic people and believe that such “evil” will never happen to us or our families.

Truth be told these things happen everyday and these are everyday Nigerians with families.

There is a lot to be done and as citizens we can’t fold our arms and let things remain the same we must engage with politicians and policy makers.

We can’t keep losing lives to avoidable causes, government must design a more robust system.

We can leverage tech and ensure that emergency services are readily available everywhere around Nigeria.

Nigerians deserve better!!


Olusanya Oluwatomi