COVID-19: CBN spends ₦26.27bn on healthcare, says Emefiele

About 20 projects valued at ₦26.278 billion have been funded under the ₦100 billion Central Bank of Nigeria credit support intervention for the healthcare industry, the Governor of the apex bank, Godwin Emefiele, said on Monday.

The CBN also said it had received over 27 proposals from researchers requesting for ₦67billion grant.

Emefiele said in Abuja during the inauguration of the Board of Experts of the Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme.

During the event, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID – 19, Boss Mustapha, raised the alarm that Nigeria would risk confrontation with another pandemic if the country failed to take advantage of the opportunities presented by Coronavirus to develop health infrastructure.

He said the Coronavirus pandemic has exposed the weaknesses in the nation’s health system, governance system, security infrastructure, inclusiveness and creation social safety nets for citizens.

Emefiele said, “Currently, 20 projects valued at ₦26.278 billion have been funded under the ₦100 billion credit support intervention for the healthcare industry. Some of the firms that have been able to obtain funding include hospitals, research centres and pharmaceutical industries.”

However, in his clarification, the CBN Director (Development Finance), Philip Yila Yusuf, said that the CBN has received over 27 proposals from researchers requesting for ₦67 billion grant.

He said the grant was to enable them develop vaccines, advanced drugs or manufacturing of different types of products that would enable Nigeria solve different kinds of healthcare challenges in the country.

Yusuf said, “What we have inaugurated today is the Healthcare Research and  Development Interventions Scheme. This is a grant to researchers, institutions that want to embark on research, either to develop vaccines or herbal medicines or drugs that could address not only COVID – 19 but other infectious diseases that affect our people.

“This grant is different from the hundred billion naira health care sector intervention that is for manufacturers, pharmaceuticals, hospitals who want to take money from the Deposit Money Banks to either expand or revitalize the lines that they have.”

While expressing his fears, Mustapha warned that, “if we lose the sense of the moment, we will be confronted with another pandemic and we will find ourselves starting all over again.”

The SGF said, “If we had built on the experiences of Ebola and other epidemics that we have dealt with in the past, probably today we wouldn’t have started with about two molecular laboratories for the testing of COVID – 19.

“If you travel the shores of this country, you will find out that we have over 10,000 public primary healthcare centres scattered in wards and villages across the country, ill-equipped, ineffective, and not being put into use but we keep building them.”

The PTF chairman appealed to members of the BOEs to also look at governance structures in the healthcare sector apart from your primary responsibilities.

According to him, the intervention by the CBN would set the country on the part of recovering the healthcare system in Nigeria.

Mustapha said, “If we did not have the opportunity of reconsidering the reconstruction, of our health infrastructure in this country this is a golden opportunity that has availed itself.”

“It will be the greatest disappointment of our time and of our generation if we do not seize the opportunity of the moment to redress all the deficiencies of the defects that we’ve had in our health and other infrastructure in this country.

“This particular time is an eye opener and it has revealed the depth of the weaknesses in the system. I have seen how the levels of government have abdicated their responsibilities when it comes to dealing with educational or health matters.”
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