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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton July 27, 2005

Multilingualism and healthcare in Nigeria: A management perspective

  • Bassey E. Antia and Fankep D. A. Bertin


Nigeria has a healthcare system that has been described as defective even by its managers. A year 2000 study by the World Health Organization (WHO) of health systems in 191 member countries ranked Nigeria 187th. These several evaluations consistently point to inadequate managerial skills. Regrettably, very little is known of the import of language and communication as management issues in healthcare delivery in this country of 400 languages. This article therefore proposes a language-driven audit of health management in Borno State (northeast Nigeria) as a means of sensitizing policy makers and implementers. Based largely on data from questionnaires completed by 129 health professionals belonging to various professional categories (physicians, nurses, pharmacy staff, laboratory staff, and medical and health workers) and drawn from four hospitals, the study explores the relationship between multilingualism and the following: (a) patients' rights; (b) staff recruitment, deployment and commitment; (c) human asset accounting; (d) physician–population ratio. This language-driven audit reveals a number of points, including: ethically questionable practices; distributional imbalance in personnel; commendable cases of employee commitment; and inequity in renumeration.


Address for correspondence: Department of Languages and Linguistics, University of Maiduguri, P.M.B. 1069 Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria. E-mail:

Published Online: 2005-07-27
Published in Print: 2004-09-29

© Walter de Gruyter

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