As tоdау оffiсiаllу mаrkѕ the еnd оf 2018, I took ѕоmе timе оut tо rеviеw whаt healthnews.ng’s rеаdеrѕ wеrе сrаzу about in thе оutgоing year and thе results wеrе quite аn еуе-ореnеr revealing the widе gap bеtwееn whаt ѕhоuld mаttеr аnd what сurrеntlу matters tо роliсуmаkеrѕ.
The most read story on the website was on abortion – how Nigerians were leveraging on social media for abortion tips.
In the data-guided report, we revealed the publicly available on abortion in Nigeria, how abortion service seekers in the country are patronizing quacks and how healthcare practitioners cannot intervene until there is bleeding and the life of the lady is at risk.
The interesting thing about this topic was the fact that for over 5 months, the story was the most read piece on the website for 5 straight months and between the time I started writing this piece and now, it has been by 53 people. While some could be doing researches on abortion, I think it is safe to predict that many of them are seeking abortion tips.
Stakeholders continue to argue in support of legalizing abortions to save lives but the Nigerian government is not showing any signs of revising its anti-abortion stance.
The popularity of abortion among Nigerian online information seekers was further confirmed with the emergence of another abortion-linked story on the list of the most stories on the website. The piece focused on Nigeria’s booming abortion black market.
The second most read story was on mental health. I commissioned one of our writers to do a piece on Nigeria’s Top 10 psychiatric hospitals and mental health institutions. None of the facilities mentioned paid any amount to be on that list which was also very independent – probably the reason for its popularity among readers. The piece also includes links to the individual facilities and the data showed Nigerians are actually seeking mental health services at private health centers notoriously known to be expensive.
Without mincing words, the mental health space, even though it remains enshrined by religion and usurped by esoteric practices, it is rapidly expanding space yet it remains largely unregulated since the government’s remains on vaccines, Ebola, HIV and other popular health keywords.
Another mental health-linked story that appeared on the top 10 list focused on suicide. The suicide piece was data-driven. After analysing the leading causes of death in Nigeria, we realised that more Nigerians are increasingly committing suicide, outweighing the number of Nigerians that died due to renal diseases and hepatitis.
Readers were also curious about female contraceptives and a story we published in 2018 on matters arising as more Nigerian women embrace contraceptives was the third most read piece.
Another highly popular story focused on the connection between vaccination and poverty prevention. According to the eye-opening report, vaccines will help prevent 24 million people from slipping into poverty by 2030.
Nigeria’s burgeoning population crisis also got the attention of our readers. After reviewing data, we reported that by 2050, 1 out of every 13 births globally will occur in Nigeria.
Breastfeeding also featured prominently on our list of most read stories. There is one on the inverse relationship between the duration of breastfeeding and a woman’s diabetes risk. There’s also the piece in which I fact-checked Nigerian government’s false and misleading claims on exclusive breastfeeding.
The inclusion of our exclusive report that revealed the Nigerian government was discussing with a little known American startup which could be in charge of medical records in Nigeria also reverberated also the ecosystem which responded strongly against the meeting the startup had with the health minister while Nigerian startup founders continue to struggle for such opportunities.
Business-wise, we were very glad that some sponsored posts also enjoyed great traction on the platform. They include this piece by MTV’s Shuga TV series, Friesland Campina WAMCO and Nigeria’s biggest syringe manufacturing facility.
The lesson I believe health stakeholders in Nigeria and elsewhere should take to 2018 is to make conscious efforts to stay in touch with the people, re-evaluate priorities, prioritize preparedness and update knowledge base on the present-day challenges – no matter how weird they sound now and later.