The over N83.9billion in loans that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) disbursed to pharmaceutical companies and healthcare practitioners, as well as other measures introduced by the apex bank to tackle the COVID-19 crisis, helped to bolster the capacity of the country’s healthcare institutions to respond to the pandemic, CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has said. He stated this in his speech at the premiere of “Unmasked,”- a feature documentary on Nigeria’s COVID-19 experience – which took place in Lagos yesterday. Emefiele, who was represented, by the Acting Director, Corporate Communications Department at the CBN, Mr. Osita Nwanisobi, noted that the COVID-19 crisis brought the impact of public health on economic growth, government revenues and unemployment, to the fore.
According to him, the CBN realised that the measures it introduced to help support economic recovery would not yield the desired result, if the regulator did not pay significant attention to improving the capacity of the country’s healthcare system to respond to the crisis, “as well as ramp up efforts to build a sustainable healthcare infrastructure that could anticipate and respond adequately to a potential health crisis in the future.”
The CBN, he said: “Disbursed over N83.9 billion in loans to pharmaceutical companies and healthcare practitioners, which is supporting 26 pharmaceutical and 56 medical projects across the country. “We were also able to mobilize key stakeholders in the Nigerian economy through the CACOVID alliance, which led to the provision of over N25bn in relief materials to affected households, and the set-up of 39 isolation centers across the country. These measures helped to expand and strengthen the capacity of our healthcare institutions to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We also initiated the Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Grant Scheme, which will aid research on solutions that could address diseases such as COVID-19, and other communicable/ non-communicable diseases. So far 5 major healthcare related research projects are being financed under this initiative.” Emefiele, however, stated that while the apex bank’s interventions have helped to improve the country’s capacity to respond to the crisis, more work needs to be done to build a more sustainable healthcare infrastructure.