Nigeria Beyond Ebola

After Nigeria's successful fight against Ebola, President Goodluck Johnson has the opportunity to greatly improve the country's health-care system. The National Health Bill awaiting his signature would establish national standards, guarantee basic health care for all Nigerians, and cement his legacy ahead of elections in February.

ABUJA – When the World Health Organization declared that Nigeria had successfully eradicated the Ebola virus within its borders, there was loud global applause. Amid the cheers, however, few noticed a potentially even greater health milestone for Africa’s most populous country: the enactment of a new National Health Bill, which now awaits President Goodluck Jonathan’s signature.

If the bill is signed into law, it could transform Nigeria’s health-care system, providing a model for other West African countries seeking to learn the lessons of the Ebola epidemic and provide health care to all of their citizens. Jonathan is running for re-election in February. Signing the bill would demonstrate his commitment to improving health services for Nigerians, and blaze a trail for others to follow.

Ebola appeared in Nigeria when an infected traveler from Liberia arrived in Lagos in July. The consequences of a major outbreak among the 22 million inhabitants of Africa’s largest city could have been catastrophic.

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