…Disburses N253.5m to COVID-19 vaccines researchers
…As SGF says Nigeria must mass produce vaccines
…CACOVID donates incinerator, 260 oxygen cylinder to LASG
By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has spent the sum of N85.89 billion on its Health Sector Intervention Facility (HSIF).
CBN governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, disclosed this, in Abuja, yesterday, while disbursing the sum of N253.54 million to five researchers for the development of Nigerian COVID-19 vaccines and vaccines for other diseases.
Mr. Emefiele said: “The CBN has over time emphasized the need for us to move from a consumer-based economy to a more productive economy. To this, the bank has developed intervention programmes and schemes across various sectors including the health sector.
“As part of proactive measures to support the growth of the Nigerian healthcare sector, the CBN introduced the Healthcare Sector Intervention Facility.
“The facility is 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.
“Currently, 82 projects, valued at N85.89 billion, have been financed through this Scheme. The projects financed comprise of 26 pharmaceutical and 56 medical projects across the country.”
Yesterday’s disbursement came under CBN’s Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme, HSRDIS.
Emefiele said the body of experts on the scheme, chaired by Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control, NAFDAC, received 286 proposals from the general public, out of which 68 proposals had been evaluated.
He said of those evaluated, “five proposals with significant merit valued at N253.54 million were recommended by the experts for financing.
“Some of the recommended proposals also have the potential to enable the development of the Nigerian vaccine for COVID-19.”
The CBN governor noted that COVID-19 “exposed the fragility of our healthcare system and the urgent need to look inward and build a more robust and sustainable healthcare.
“The response by some advanced and developing countries also reflected the significant advancements that have occurred in the health sector in those countries.
“Their investments in R&D enabled health institutions to develop a rapid response to Coronavirus, with the deployment of vaccines in record time.”
In his remarks, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, said the nation urgently needs mass production of COVID-19 vaccines.
“We need to mass-produce these vaccines and other medical products. All Nigerians must take the vaccines because nobody is safe until everyone is safe.”
He said officers had been sent out to monitor the vaccination across the country in order to ensure transparency and accountability.
Mustapha commended the initiatives of Mr. Emefiele for rallying Nigeria’s corporate organizations to fund the COVID-19 response through CACOVID.
The HSRDIS was introduced in July 2020 as part of the bank’s policy response to the Coronavirus pandemic, aimed at prompting intense research and development, R&D, activities towards developing vaccines and drugs against the spread of other communicable and non-communicable diseases.
Under the HSRDIS, grants are provided to researchers and healthcare institutions for the development of vaccines, drugs and herbal medicines which could help curtail the spread of COVID-19 and any other communicable or non-communicable diseases.
Meanwhile, the private sector Coalition Against COVID-19, CACOVID, yesterday fulfilled its pledge to the Lagos State government by donating 260 medical oxygen gas cylinder and newly purchased Incinerator to Yaba Isolation Centre in Lagos.
Speaking at the commissioning of the Incinerator and presentation of gas cylinders, Managing Director/CEO of Aliko Dangote Foundation, who doubles as an administrator of CACOVID, Zouera Youssoufou, said though a total number of 260 gas cylinders of different sizes were donated to Lagos State government, including incinerator, for now, CACOVID would do more to assist Lagos and other states across the country to ensure that the fight against the deadly coronavirus was finally won.
Describing incineration as a waste treatment process that involves the combustion of organic substances contained in waste materials to eradicate the risk of the waste from the isolation centre in the community, noting also that it could be moved from one centre to another and could serve the whole isolation centres in the state.
Expressing deep appreciation of the state government to all the members of the CACOVID team, Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr Akinola Abayomi, applauded the prompt intervention of the team at a time the state was in dire need of both oxygen and its cylinders. He said CACOVID showed up at a time oxygen cylinders were so hard to find, stressing that for this, the state would remain very appreciative of the kind gesture.
Noting that CACOVID had always come to the support of the government, Abayomi said: “Our demand has not exceeded our supply.’’
He said the logistics behind oxygen was quite complex and sophisticated, adding that Lagos State was building capacity.
Chairman of African Industries Group, Mr Raj Gupta, promised that his company wil continue to provide oxygen free of charge to all the states across the country through CACOVID.
He said: “We will continue to support Nigeria with oxygen for free for as long as this is required. No COVID patient in any public hospital or isolation centre should have to pay for oxygen.”