Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), 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.
Emefiele 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.
He 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.
The CBN governor added that the recommended proposals also have the potential to enable the development of the Nigerian vaccine for COVID-19.
According to him, 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.
Speaking further, 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.
He said 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.
Emefiele 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.
The CBN Governor while congratulating the recipients of the grant award, 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.
Also speaking, Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, 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.
The SGF 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.