Coronavirus Updates

August 17, 2020

COVID-19: FG warns of another pandemic if…

As CBN gives N26bn to hospitals, pharmaceutical firms

Emma Ujah

The Federal Government has warned that Nigeria risks another pandemic if the nation fails to urgently develop her health infrastructure.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, gave the warning at the inauguration of the Board of Experts (BoE) of the Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme (HSRDIS) of the Central Bank of Nigeria, in Abuja, today.

The apex bank initiated the HSRDIS to quickly respond to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 and to strengthen the nation’s health sector.

The SGF said, “If we lose the sense of the moment, we will be confronted with another pandemic and we will find ourselves starting all over again. 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.”

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COVID-19, the SGF said, “has exposed the weaknesses in our health system, in our governance system, in our security infrastructure, in our inclusiveness and creating social safety nets for our people.”

Mr Mustahpa said that the CBN intervention, “will set us on the part of recovering our health care system in Nigeria. 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.”

The SGF said he said he had realised that there has been a total abdication of responsibility in terms of management, funding, in terms of control in terms of direction and building capacity and governance has become very important, “so that we don’t have people in government abdicating their responsibilities and walking away with it.”

In his remarks, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, disclosed, “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.”

Also speaking, the Director, Development Finance of the bank, Mr Philip Yusuf, disclosed that over 27 proposals from researchers requesting for ₦67 billion grant have been received.

The grant is to enable them to develop vaccines, advanced drugs or manufacturing of different types of products that would enable Nigeria to solve different kinds of health care challenges plaguing the country.

HSRDIS is a grant for researchers and institutions that want to embark on research either to develop vaccines, herbal medicines or drugs that could address COVID-19 and other infectious diseases that affect our people.