Nigeria: Country Profile

Nigeria is the largest country in Africa with over 200 million people, hundreds of ethnic groups and languages. Nigeria has a large and mixed economy, with herding and animal husbandry playing a significant role in the agriculture sector. Anthrax, bovine tuberculosis, and rabies afflict livestock workers, and other zoonotic diseases such as Ebola virus disease (EVD) and Lassa fever have threatened Nigeria in recent years. The government of Nigeria has adopted the One Health approach which brings together human and animal health workers, laboratory personnel, environmental scientists, and other experts and ministries related to human, animal, and environmental health.

Nigeria Map Placeholder
Nigeria Map

In 2017, the government of Nigeria and partners identified 12 priority zoonotic diseases: rabies, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), EVD, swine flu, anthrax, tuberculosis, African trypanosomiasis, Lassa fever, E. coli, brucellosis, monkeypox, and yellow fever. In 2022, a reprioritization exercise narrowed to six of these: bovine tuberculosis, HPAI, Lassa fever, mpox, rabies, and yellow fever.

Bovine tuberculosis is caused by the bacterial species Mycobacterium bovis and causes bovine tuberculosis in farm animals (and tuberculosis in other wild animals). In 2016, according to WHO estimates, 147,000 new cases of zoonotic TB were reported in humans, including 12,500 deaths.

HPAI is an infection by an influenza virus that can affect almost all species of birds, wild or domestic. It can be highly contagious, especially in chickens and turkeys, and can lead to extremely high mortality, especially in factory farms. The avian influenza virus sometimes infects other animal species, including pigs.

Lassa fever is a highly infectious disease transmitted by direct and indirect contact with the body fluids of infected rats, i.e. urine, faeces, saliva, or blood. Human-to-human transmission is also possible, through sneezing, or contact with the sputum, stool, urine, blood, and seminal fluid of infected persons. It usually manifests with fever, muscle pain, generalized weakness, and diarrhea, so often misdiagnosed as the symptoms are not specific. The severe form of the disease presents with bleeding and may lead to organ failure and death.

Mpox (monkeypox) is a viral disease that primarily affects animals such as rodents or non-human primates but can be transmitted to humans. The disease is transmitted through respiratory droplets, close contact with lesions or bodily fluids, or contaminated materials and causes a variety of symptoms including fever and rash. In the same family as smallpox, smallpox vaccines offer some protection against mpox. In Nigeria, mpox reemerged in 2017 after several years without reported cases.

Rabies remains a widespread disease worldwide, responsible for tens of thousands of deaths each year. It is most often transmitted by dogs but can be found in other animals as well. About 10,000 human cases of rabies are reported each year in Nigeria.

Yellow fever: Caused by the yellow fever virus, the disease causes fever, chills, headache, muscle pain, nausea, and may lead to jaundice and hemorrhaging. The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes as well as nonhuman primates. Prevention is mainly through vaccination of people at risk as well as mosquito control. The virus resurged in Nigeria in 2017.


Visit Nigeria Centers for Disease Control for more information on diseases in Nigeria.

The One Health landscape in Nigeria brings together professionals from different sectors to coordinate, collaborate, communicate, and build capacity to solve challenges across the human-animal-environment interface. While this concept is not new, it has gained momentum in the past two decades with the emergence and spread of some infectious diseases and Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) globally. The collaboration among the relevant sectors is bringing the One Health concept to the fore and helping to tackle the associated challenges.

In Nigeria, a National One Health Strategic Plan (NOHSP) that provides a framework for the implementation of One Health was launched in 2019. The One Health Platform (made up of the National One Health Steering Committee (NOHSC), the National One Health Technical Committee (NOHTC), and the National One Health Coordinating Unit (NOHCU)) with representation from relevant ministries, departments, and agencies is responsible for providing oversight in the planning, implementation, and monitoring of One Health-related activities in the country. Each sector has a designated One Health desk officer to ensure effective coordination, collaboration, and communication.

The Nigeria One Health Strategic Plan (2019-2023) has more information about the role of various stakeholders in the implementation of One Health in the country. The goals of the strategic plan are:

  • to build a sustainable and institutionalized One Health platform at all government levels,
  • have a safe and secure research agenda for sustained capacity and implementation of OH initiatives,
  • increase awareness for all stakeholders,
  • enhance commitment and support for One health from government and other stakeholders and
  • effective prevention, detection, and response to public health threats through the One Health approach.

Read how the Breakthrough ACTION team led a coordinated group of activities to address annual outbreaks of Lassa Fever.

The Breakthrough ACTION team undertook a desk review to explore known factors influencing the emergence of Lassa fever in Nigeria, how the country prepares and responds to outbreaks, and key knowledge, attitudes and practices related to the Lassa fever among Nigerians.

Read the full Lassa fever desk review

Breakthrough ACTION conducted two rounds of a survey on yellow fever using interactive voice response (IVR) technology. The survey was conducted with respondents in Bauchi State and explored changes in knowledge, attitudes, and practices between September 2021 and April 2022. Knowledge of how yellow fever is transmitted was moderate, whereas favorable attitudes about the importance of care-seeking and vaccination for yellow fever were high. The greatest improvement occurred in the perception that vaccination is the most effective way to prevent yellow fever from round 1 to round 2.

Review the key findings here.

Following the Lassa fever desk review, the Breakthrough ACTION team collaborated with One Health stakeholders to conduct the discovery phase of a human-centered design (HCD) process aimed at identifying factors that influence Lassa Fever transmission in Nigeria and potential opportunities for social and behavior change interventions and messages. During the HCD process, participants identified barriers and opportunities related to the flow of information, beliefs and misconceptions, risk perceptions, and practices.

Read more in the insights presentation.

Breakthrough ACTION supported the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) to conduct a baseline assessment on mpox in mid-2022. The study was a cross-sectional quantitative survey at the household level, with data collected in states with the highest number of reported mpox cases in each of Nigeria’s six zones. About half of the respondents had heard of mpox. Of those, the majority listed animals as the “cause” of mpox, and attitudes toward care-seeking for mpox and toward a vaccine were favorable, more so among males. The study found considerable stigma associated with mpox.

Review the key findings (draft) here.

To further respond to the mpox outbreak, the Breakthrough ACTION team collaborated with the US-CDC-funded Advancing Capacity for Epidemic Preparedness & Response in Nigeria (ACEPRIN) Project implemented by the NCDC to implement a qualitative study in four states: Kebbi, Lagos, Rivers, and the Federal Capital Territory. This After-Action Review summarizes lessons learned from implementation, with study results forthcoming.