Home Business CBN Upscaling Nigeria’s Healthcare Sector Through Intervention Schemes

CBN Upscaling Nigeria’s Healthcare Sector Through Intervention Schemes

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Health is a fundamental right that needs to be given urgent attention and supported for economic growth and development.

This is why the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) under the leadership of Mr. Godwin Emefiele has put in place several efforts to direct funding into the healthcare sector in Nigeria.

The Apex bank Governor since 2020 commenced the launch of a number of intervention schemes to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy and ensure that Nigerian businesses across all sectors of the economy receive adequate support to keep them running. Households and individuals were also not left out of the initiatives as they also benefitted from the intervention schemes.

The CBN under the watch of Emefiele has introduced no less than 37 intervention programmes to boost the nation’s economy. These intervention initiatives include Agriculture; Small and medium enterprises; Infrastructure; Youth empowerment; Healthcare; Housing; Manufacturing and Service industry; among others.

The Health Sector Intervention Facility (HSIF) which is part of the numerous intervention programs created by the development finance institution CBN, has recorded great success according to recipients .

Overtime, Nigeria has been under increasing pressure to improve provision for healthcare services, while seeking to employ scarce resources due to inadequately funded healthcare system.

The advent of COVID -19 pandemic was the catalyst for the creation of Health Intervention facility by Emefiele, as the CBN set aside N100 billion to support the healthcare sector.

The apex bank in quick response to the pandemic, had in April 2020 taken measures to extend credit facilities of up to N100 billion to support the HSIF efforts targeted at the sector.

The intervention according to the CBN
“Guidelines for the Operations of the
N100 billion credit support for the healthcare sector” released in 2020, was aimed to stimulate economic activities locally within the healthcare sector, while making products and services readily available for Nigerians, thereby expanding the capacity of the Nigerian industry.

“Specifically, the scheme is to make credit available to indigenous pharmaceutical companies and other healthcare value chain players to facilitate improvements in healthcare delivery as well as reduce medical tourism to enhance foreign exchange conservation,” the CBN guideline stated.

One of the objectives of the N100 billion credit support to the health sector highlighted in the guideline released by the apex bank stated that the fund would enable “pharmaceutical companies to expand their operations and comply with the World Health Organization’s Good Manufacturing Practices (WHO GMP).”

Stakeholders in the health sector who have benefited from the Pharmaceutical Intervention for COVID-19 have continuously commended the apex bank governor for the brilliant initiative which they affirmed has helped enhance the sector.

As a result of the Federal government intervention funding scheme through CBN, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) recently received the World Health Organization (WHO) certification classifying the agency as ML3 status.

On the 30th of March, 2022, the Director General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Mojisola Adeyeye, in Abuja announced that WHO had certified the agency as a maturity three(ML3) regulatory agency.

According to Adeyeye, the agency was able to attain the feat due to the backing of the federal government through the CBN’s credit support scheme for healthcare sector.

In her words ” When I came on board, 70 to 80 per cent of our laboratories equipment were not working and President Buhari intervened and gave us N736 million to equip our laboratories.

” President Buhari also gave us N4 billion to buy more equipment and build a vaccine laboratory which is almost completed. it is the tools that earned us this”.

Adeyeye explained that the immediate benefit of attaining ML 3 certification meant that Nigeria could now manufacture its own vaccines through NAFDAC, revealing that the process had started with the construction of a vaccine laboratory in Lagos.

Meanwhile, in October 2021, Emefiele the CBN governor at the official commissioning of the Dutchess International Hospital in Lagos had announced an increase in the healthcare intervention fund from N100 billion to N200 billion as requested by the monetary policy committee.

Emefiele explained that “but upon rise in demand, CBN had disbursed N107.7 billion, supporting 114 healthcare projects which include medical diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, dental services, eye clinics both private and public hospital just to mention a few.

“we had taken up N100 million to support but the monetary policy has said we should move it further up to N200 billion. We would continue to do whatever can be done to support healthcare”.

“When we started Covid, CBN set aside N100 billion to support the healthcare sector, but upon rise in demand, we have disbursed N107.7 billion, supporting 114 healthcare projects which include medical diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, dental services, eye clinics both private and public hospital just to mention a few”.

“I want to encourage our banks to lend to them and also members of our private sector community to invest as you don’t have to be a doctor to own a medical facility,” Emefiele said.

The Director, Corporate Communications of CBN, Mr. Osita Nwanisobi, said: “Over N85 billion has been disbursed to date covering 82 projects under the Health Sector Intervention Facility (HSIF). N22.5 billion was disbursed to States for revamping of primary health care centres across the country.

He further disclosed that the HSIF has been used to finance acquisition and installation of 16 magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Machines across the country; and acquisition and installation of 22 medical scanning machines by hospitals across the country.

“These are verifiable and we confirm that they have been installed,” Nwanisobi said.

While some stakeholders in the industry acknowledged that the fund has helped local pharmaceutical companies expand their production capacities, others are of the view that more is needed to be done in the area of disbursement process.

President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, Sam Ohuabunwa confirmed that more than 90 per cent of the N100 billion COVID-19 intervention fund for the healthcare/pharmaceutical industry have been accessed by their members

On the other hand, former Assistant Secretary, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, Abuja branch, Pharm Dr. Ayodele Ogunole, who spoke via phone interview, while lauding the initiative said some pharmaceutical companies and community pharmacies have not been able to access the fund due to stringent requirements.

According to him “It has helped but not up to expectation, the only sector that has been well impacted is the manufacturing sector. The impact of the intervention would have been better if the local manufacturing companies and community pharmacies which are the first point of call for patients have easy access to the loan”.

Ogunole appealed to the federal government to extend the facility to community pharmacies and reduce the requirements for accessing the fund, noting that this would cushion the effect of some of the challenges confronting the community health sector.

The Healthcare Care Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme (HSRDIS) on it’s part, was specifically designed to trigger intense national Research and Development activities to develop a Nigerian vaccine, drugs and herbal medicines/medical devices to curb the spread of COVID-19 and any other communicable or non-communicable diseases.

According to information contained in CBN’s official website, www.cbn.gov.ng, the overall objective of the HSRDIS is to reduce Nigeria’s dependence on other countries for critical drugs and vaccines.

The scheme provided for a maximum of N50 million grant earmarked for research activities and a maximum of N500 million grant for development and manufacturing.

However, outcomes in the area of HSRDIS are still being expected from Body of Experts (BoE) responsible for the review and evaluation of submitted research proposals.

The credit support intervention to the health sector created by the CBN is expected to operate till the 31st of December, 2030, as stated in the guidelines for the scheme.

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