By our Reporter
Food insecurity and poor infrastructure are impeding the life expectancy of Nigerians, experts have said. Statistics from the United Nation’s Population Fund (UNFPA) shows that Nigeria has the 3rd lowest life expectancy rate in the world – 55 years for men and 56 years for women.
The Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Ipalibo Harry –Banigo has linked the nation’s low life expectancy to poor infrastructure, lack of food security and poor economic indices. Banigo said health experts and other stakeholders must team up to address these factors responsible for the short life span in order to raise Nigerians’ standard of living from the current abysmal level.
Two years ago, the World Health Organisation(WHO) published data showing that life expectancy in Nigeria was 54.7 for males and 55.7 for females. With a total life expectancy of 55.2 years, it gave Nigeria a World Life Expectancy ranking of 178.
Speaking in Lagos on the topic ‘Improving life expectancy in Nigeria’, Harry –Banigo said: “We also have social problems, infrastructure problems, inadequate portable safe water supply, poor states of our roads, poor housing and exorbitant rental challenges amidst other economic variables. Inequitable distribution of income has wiped out the middle class in our society.This is in addition to unprecedented levels of unemployment, a lot of stress ranging from students’ school fees, house rent, electricity bills, medical bills, generators and parts repairs, powering and fueling, feeding the family and clothing families. So also are the huge numbers of demandsfrom siblings, vigilante bills, work stress, police stress on the road, variable stress, kidnappers’ fears, armed robbery fears and all these. They are all adding to our low rate of life expectancy.”
She said that, for Nigeria to improve on its life expectancy, there was an urgent need for collaboration with all sectors. “Our government has a critical role to create a conducive environment for businesses to thrive and to ensure the sustainability of the ease of doing business in all the sectors of the economy. It must address the numerous challenges breaking the health sector in terms of facility, equipment, manpower and also curtailing preventable and avoidable diseases.
“Government needs to improve on budgetary allocations to the health sector, and take measures to control population growth. A situation where we have a population growth increase that is higher than our GDP is not sustainable. Hence we need to educate our people and educate the women on birth control’’
Former Director & General Manager, Human Resources & Organization, Nigeria Agip Oil Company Limited, Papa Patrick Amaechi, who spoke from London also proffered solutions on how Nigerians can live to a ripe old age. Narrating his experience, he said this can be achieved through discipline, knowledge about diets and regular check-up to ensure one stays in good shape all year round. “We are what we eat,” he said, adding: “It is important to find out what kind of food is good for us as individuals and what physical exercises are appropriate for us with moderations” Contributing to the conversation, the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of St. Rachael’s Pharmaceuticals, Mr. Akinjide Adeosun observed: “Two years ago, we commenced a 20-year journey into leaving our purpose on the continent of Africa starting from Nigeria. This journey will see us launch into many markets on the continent, expand our offering from our core base of antibiotics into brands that will supplement life and brands that will prevent diseases. “These are our tri-growth strategies. Everything is planned with eyes on our vision – to eradicate diseases in Africa.