The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele says 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 stated this at the Bank’s headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday, during the presentation of grants to successful beneficiaries of the Health Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme.
Mr. Emefiele disclosed that 68 proposals out of the 286 submissions received by the Body of Experts, had been reviewed and evaluated with five proposals with significant merits valued at N253.54 million recommended by the experts for financing. 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.
Mr. 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 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.
The CBN Governor also disclosed that 82 projects, valued at N85.89-billion, comprising 26 pharmaceutical and 56 medical projects across the country had been financed through the HSRDIS.
While congratulating the recipients of the grant award, Emefiele 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 expressed optimism that the CBN HSRDIS grant will offer an average Nigerian access to the much-needed vaccines and drugs for not just COVID-19, but other communicable or non-communicable diseases.
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, Mr. 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.
Mr. 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.