The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Tuesday disclosed that it had committed N85.89 billion to finance COVID-19 pandemic projects since the first reported case in February 2020 in the country.
The apex bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, disclosed this in Abuja during the Award of Grants for the CBN’s Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme (HSRDIS) , listed the projects funded by the bank as comprising 26 pharmaceutical and 56 medical projects nationwide.
Commenting on the impact of the pandemic and the relevance of the HSRDIS to tackle it, the CBN Governor noted that its outbreak has had an unprecedented effect on the global economy, adding that a healthy and safe workforce is critical for continued economic growth as well as the stability of the financial system.
According to him, so far, over 286 proposals have been received from the general public by the body of experts out of which about 68 proposals had been evaluated and five proposals with significant merits valued at N253.54m were recommended by the experts for financing.
The banker explained that some of the recommended proposals also had the potential to enable the development of the Nigerian vaccine for COVID-19 pandemic, adding that while the review of proposals is still ongoing, the committee is expected to provide recommendations for additional award of grants to qualified research experts.
He expatiated: “Today’s grant awards is a testimony to the significant role research and development in healthcare could play in supporting economic growth, particularly as growth is highly dependent on a strong and healthy workforce.
“Meeting our need for a strong and healthy workforce with better safety profiles is a task that can only be addressed through a healthcare sector that provides for significant investments in Research and Development.
“A vibrant and innovative health care system is also vital for our national security; we all witnessed how a number of countries and territories adopted stringent and immediate export restrictions on critical medical supplies and drugs that were specifically meant to help countries respond to the spread of the virus.
“The CBN has over time emphasized the need for us to move from a consumer-based economy to a more productive economy. To this, the Bank has developed intervention programmes and schemes across various sectors including the health sector”, Emefiele added
As expected, he urged the award recipients to judiciously utilize the opportunity availed them by the CBN funding support by ensuring that their projects meet the set targets, aims and objectives of supporting the development of vaccines and drugs in the country.
The apex bank governor expressed optimism that doing so would offer the average Nigerian opportunity to access COVID-19 vaccines and drugs for other communicable or non-communicable diseases.
He reiterated the CBN’s commitment to the successful implementation of the Scheme.
The Scheme, which was introduced with the release of the implementation guidelines and subsequent inauguration by the body of experts in July 2020, was part of the CBN’s policy response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Specifically, the HSRDIS is aimed at prompting intense research and development activities towards developing vaccines and drugs against the spread of other communicable and non-communicable diseases.
Under the HSRDIS, grants are provided to researchers and healthcare institutions for the development of vaccines, drugs and herbal medicines that could help curb the spread of the pandemic and any other communicable or non-communicable diseases.