Thursday, January 20, 2022
HomeHealth & LivingN100b lifeline  for healthcare sector excites manufacturers 

N100b lifeline  for healthcare sector excites manufacturers 

Emefiele said that while these interventions have helped to improve Nigeria’s capacity to respond to the crisis, the country cannot afford to rest on its oars as more work needs to be done to build a more sustainable healthcare infrastructure in the country

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has disbursed N97.8 billion out of the N100 billion facility it approved for the healthcare sector. The fund was committed to 98 healthcare projects across different regions in the country. The improved funding for the healthcare sector is needed to save foreign exchange used for medical tourism and strengthen local production of pharmaceutical products.

Improved funding for the healthcare sector has positive effects on the productivity and growth of the economy. 

No time is such activity needed than now that the world is battling the Covid-19 pandemic, a health crisis with economic consequences. 

For the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), funding for the healthcare sector should not be left in the hands of government alone. 

That explains CBN’s commitment to healthcare delivery, quality research in healthcare and local manufacturing of pharmaceutical products.

For instance, the apex bank has committed N100 billion intervention fund to be accessed by healthcare providers and pharmaceutical industries to support their operation.  The  facility  was also meant to help cushion the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the economy and healthcare providers’ businesses.

The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele,  has also presented N233.4 million to fund 68 proposals out of the 286 submissions received by the Body of Experts for financing healthcare projects.

Emefiele said that a vibrant and innovative healthcare system is vital for the country’s national security, hence the need to encourage research and innovation in the treatment of health conditions for the Nigerian citizens.

He spoke in Abuja,  during the presentation of grants to successful beneficiaries of the Health Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme.

While congratulating the recipients of the grant award, he urged them to judiciously utilize the opportunity offered to them by the CBN and strive to achieve the purpose of their research by ensuring that their projects meet the set targets.

He added that the recommended proposals also have the potential to enable the development of the Nigerian vaccine for COVID-19.

The Governor said the grant award was a testimony to the significant role research and development in healthcare could play in supporting economic growth, particularly as growth was highly dependent on a strong and healthy workforce.

Emefiele also noted that the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, which had an unprecedented effect on world economy, underscored the fact that a healthy and safe workforce remained critical for a continued economic growth as well as the stability of the financial system.

He equally emphasized that the need to move from a consumer-based economy to a more productive economy necessitated the CBN’s development of intervention programmes and schemes across various sectors including the health sector.

Continuing, the CBN Governor said that the apex bank introduced the Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme (HSRDIS), as part of measures to support the growth of the Nigerian healthcare sector.

According to him, the facility aimed at strengthening the sector’s capacity to meet the increasing demand for healthcare products and services, particularly pharmaceutical companies and other healthcare value chain players intending to build or expand capacity.

 

In his remarks at the occasion, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha commended the CBN for what he described as the modest efforts of the Bank at helping future generations to combat any outbreak of health pandemic.

He assured of President Muhammadu Buhari’s support to HSRDIS as the President had supported similar responses to curb the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Mustapha said the coronavirus pandemic had exposed the fragilities of different sectors of the economy and governance but called for a collective resolve to overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic.

The SGF who disclosed that the COVID-19 vaccines were safe and efficacious, and therefore urged members of the public to avail themselves the opportunity when the time arose to be vaccinated.

 

Also speaking, the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Sen. Adeleke Olorunnimbe Mamora and Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Christiana Adeyeye, both commended the CBN for the initiative and reiterated that the HSRDIS was a step in the right direction in ensuring the vibrant and functional healthcare system as well as the socio-economic well-being of Nigerians.

Recipients of the CBN HSRDIS grant award were Prof. Olufemi Emmanuel Dokun-Babalola, Prof. Okoli Ikechukwu, Dr. John Ogedengbe, Dr. Garba Uba and Dr. O’tega Ejofodomi.

Responding on behalf of the five grant award recipients, Dr. Ejofodomi appreciated the CBN for the opportunity and pledged to utilize the resources for the purpose of the grant.

The CBN Healthcare Sector Research and Development Interventions Scheme (HSRDIS) was introduced with the release of the implementation guidelines and subsequent inauguration of the Scheme’s Body of Experts in July 2020. 

The Scheme is part of the CBN’s policy response to the coronavirus pandemic aimed at prompting intense research and developing vaccines and drugs against the spread of other communicable and non-communicable diseases. Highlights of the event was the presentation of the symbolic cheques of the award of grants to the successful recipients.

Speaking during an event organised by the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) in Lagos, CBN Acting Director, Corporate  Communications Department, Osita Nwanisobi, said that CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele is running a people-centered CBN that strengthens the healthcare sector and supports local businesses. 

“I want to let you know that the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele understands the need to invest in healthcare infrastructure. He knows that a time will come when even with your money, you will not be able to travel to attend to your health. That is while strengthening the local pharmaceutical industry is necessary this time,” he said.

He said the N100 billion healthcare scheme was expected to increase private and public investment in the healthcare sector, facilitates improvement in healthcare delivery, and reduce medical tourism to enhance foreign exchange conservation.

Nwanisobi further explained that the objective of the scheme was to provide long-term low-cost finance for healthcare development that would lead to the evolvement of world-class healthcare facilities in the country.

It was also meant to ensure that the health sector meets the potential increases in demand for healthcare products and services.

The apex bank said working capital loans shall be considered based 20 percent of the average of three years of the proposed borrower’s turnover, subject to a maximum of N500 million per obligor.

Also, where the loan is a term loan, a maximum limit of N2 billion per obligor and five percent interest rate up till February 2021 shall apply. The interest rate for the facility shall revert back to nine percent as of March 1, 2021.

The apex bank also set the exit date for all the facilities under the scheme at December 31, 2030, and stipulated joint monitoring of financed activities by the CBN and participating financial institutions.

“Term loan shall have a maximum tenor of not more than 10 years with a maximum of one-year moratorium on repayment. In terms of construction, the tenor shall be determined by the completion date,” the guideline stated.

According to the guideline, the eligible participants under the scheme shall include healthcare product manufacturers- pharmaceutical drugs and medical equipment; healthcare service providers: medical facilities- hospitals/clinics, diagnostic centers/ laboratories, fitness and wellness centers, rehabilitation centers, dialysis centers, blood banks, among others.

Also to benefit are pharmaceutical/medical products and logistic services, and other human healthcare service providers as may be determined by the CBN from time to time.

President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSC) Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa said that CBN under Emefiele has supported the healthcare sector to ensure local pharmaceutical remain in business. He said the group acknowledges the support provided by CBN under Emefiele in Nigeria’s economic development. 

 

Mobilising private sector capital 

Emefiele, said the apex bank was also able to mobilise key stakeholders in the Nigerian economy through the Coalition Against Covid-19 (CACOVID) alliance, which led to the provision of over N25 billion in relief materials to affected households, and the set-up of 39 Covid-19 isolation centers across the country.

He said the apex bank focused its interventions in building the capacity of Nigeria’s healthcare institutions, supporting the domestic manufacturing of drugs by businesses, and providing grants to researchers in the medical field, in order to encourage them to develop breakthrough innovations that would address health challenges faced by Nigerians.

These measures, he said, helped to expand and strengthen the capacity of our healthcare institutions to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We also initiated the Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Grant Scheme, which will aid research on solutions that could address diseases such as COVID-19, and other communicable/non-communicable diseases. So far five major healthcare related research projects are being financed under this initiative,” he said.

Emefiele said that while these interventions have helped to improve Nigeria’s capacity to respond to the crisis, the country cannot afford to rest on its oars as more work needs to be done to build a more sustainable healthcare infrastructure in the country.

“This work will require the collaborative efforts of both public and private sector stakeholders. One key aspect which we would have to address is improving access to healthcare for all Nigerians.

“A key factor that has impeded access to healthcare for Nigerians is the prevailing cost of healthcare services.

“According to a study by World Health Organisation, only four per cent of Nigerians have access to health insurance. Besides food, healthcare expenses are a significant component of the average Nigeria’s personal expenditure.

“Out of pocket expenses on healthcare amount to close to 76 per cent of total healthcare expenditure. At such levels of health spending, individuals, particularly those in rural communities, may be denied access to healthcare services,” he said.

Emefiele said expanding the insurance net to capture the pool of Nigerians not covered by existing health insurance schemes could help to reduce the high out of pocket expenses on healthcare services by Nigerians.

“It will also help to increase the pool of funds that could be invested in building our healthcare infrastructure and in improving the existing welfare package of our healthcare workers.

“The private sector has a significant role to play in this regard given the decline in government revenues as occasioned by the drop in commodity prices.

“Leveraging innovative solutions that can provide insurance services at relatively cheap prices could significantly help to improve access to healthcare for a large proportion of Nigerians particularly those in our rural communities,” he added.

Three-year economic revival plan

The CBN under Emefiele had in April 2020  developed a three-year policy plan to revive the economy. The Policy Response Timeline will guide Nigeria’s crises management, and orderly rebooting of the economy by relying on homegrown solutions.

In a report titled: Turning COVID-19 Tragedy into an Opportunity for a New Nigeria, the CBN boss said the policy framework will come in three phases- immediate term policy of zero to three months, short-term policy priorities of zero to 12 months and medium-term policy priorities of zero to three years.

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