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Wrong World Bank claim - that 1 in 5 Nigerians are chronically depressed - still circulates

This article is more than 5 years old

Popular Nigerian columnist and founder of Genevieve magazine Betty Irabor recently launched her memoir Dust to Dew. The book explores Irabor’s battle with depression – one few knew about.

In the book’s foreword, media entrepreneur Kadaria Ahmed writes that 22% of Nigerians – about 33 million people – suffer from chronic depression.

Ahmed cites the World Bank as the source of her data. But earlier this year, Africa Check uncovered problems with the bank’s policy brief.

First, the World Bank’s was based on a survey that sampled only the heads of households, not adult Nigerians.

Then there was the survey itself. Household heads were asked, for example, how many times in the past week their sleep was restless, or if they felt everything they did was a burden.

Their answers may have indicated symptoms of depression. But chronic depression can only be properly diagnosed by a qualified professional – not by answers to a survey.

After our fact-check, the World Bank amended its public brief to read: “On average, 22% of Nigerian respondents – 74% who are household heads, 27% who are female – have depressive symptoms.” (Note: Africa Check won the inaugural “Best correction obtained” award at the 2018 Global Fact-Checking Conference for this fact-check that led the World Bank to revise its brief.)

- Motunrayo Joel (17/07/2018)

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