EMEFIELE’S GOODLY INTERVENTIONS FOR HEALTHIER NIGERIANS

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  • BY NIYI JACOBS
  • Notwithstanding the unpalatable narratives about Nigeria’s legendary institutional dysfunctions, ever since Nigeria’s treasurer mounted the saddle in 2015 as the Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank, the health sector has been receiving some needed boost unlike what obtained before.
  • Ministerial and MDA’s bureaucracy had almost killed the initiative of Nigerian medics and pharmacists. But it was ironical that te covid-19 pandemic threw out the best in governemental creative response to the pandemic.
  • The credit without agruement goes to Mr Godwin Emefiele.If there is ever any argument that the Governor of the Central Bank need not dabble into the politics of developmental policies, Emefiele proved that given the peculiar nature of Nigeria’s socio-political structures, for an across-the-board impact n the containment efforts of the pandemic to be felt, the CBN, since it—via the TSA (Treasury Single Account) has become the real banker of the last resort—had to intermittently interject in those critical reas of national development which require quantitative assistance to private sector operators in order for an impact to be felt.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic crises presented the litmus test, and Governor Emefiele did not disappoint.Never in the history of Nigeria’s healthcare has the government deployed massive response as Emefiele did.
  • He empowered many HMOs (Health Management Organisations),Pharmaceutical companies, and a lot government hospital projects.In the wake of the covid crises in 2020, government’s response was felt through the CBN. CBN assumed the role of an ‘activist’ institution
  • HARPING ON RESEARCH AND INNOVATION:
  • The (CBN) Governor then said 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. He stated this at the Bank’s headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday, March 9, 2021, during the presentation of grants to successful beneficiaries of the Health Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme.
  •  Mr. Emefiele 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.
  • He added that the recommended proposals also have the potential to enable the development of the Nigerian vaccine for COVID-19.The Governor said 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.
  •  He equally emphasized that the need to move from a consumer-based economy to a more productive economy necessitated the CBN’s development of intervention programmes and schemes across various sectors including the health sector. 
  • Continuing, 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. According to him, 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.
  • The CBN Governor 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. While congratulating the recipients of the grant award, Emefiele 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. In his remarks at the occasion, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19,
  • Mr. Boss Mustapha 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. 
  • Alluding to these commendations, the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Sen. Adeleke Olorunnimbe Mamora and Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Christiana Adeyeye, both commended the CBN for the initiative and reiterated that the HSRDIS was a step in the right direction in ensuring the vibrant and functional healthcare system as well as the socio-economic well-being of Nigerians.
  • The CBN Healthcare Sector Research and Development Interventions Scheme (HSRDIS) was introduced with the release of the implementation guidelines and subsequent inauguration of the Scheme’s Body of Experts in July 2020.
  • The Scheme is part of the CBN’s policy response to the coronavirus pandemic aimed at prompting intense research and developing vaccines and drugs against the spread of other communicable and non-communicable diseases.
  •  BATTLING THE CANCER SCOURGE:
  •  Perhaps, there is no other area of public health concern has the CBN Governor spilled the milk of humanness in him than in the setting up of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH Marcelle Ruth Cancer Centre.
  • It was ambitious project that spotted some of the most modern cancer screening and therapy equipment and resources. Before the launch of the centre late last year,cancer was, and is still the major cause of medical tourism by Nigerian elites.
  • That emergency cases of cancer were first reported at the LUTH Marcelle Ruth Cancer centre before referrals these days if need arise was as a result of the helping  hand of the CBN.
  • Lagos Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu was present at the launch of the centre expressed the state’s readiness to put its weight behind efforts to reverse medical tourism in Nigeria.
  • He expressed this view at the launch of Marcelle Ruth Cancer Centre April 23 even as the Chairman of the hospital, Bolaji Odunsi, commended the role of Polaris Bank in making the project a reality.In his welcome address at the launch, Mr Odunsi, who went down memory lane, applauded the invaluable contributions of various stakeholders and partners in both the public and private sectors of the economy who assisted in making the vision of Marcelle Ruth Cancer Centre, a reality.
  • The Chairman who acknowledged the contribution of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Polaris Bank, said, “We have been beneficiaries of the Covid-related healthcare intervention fund and in particular we want to mention the support of Polaris Bank who helped us navigate the process. Without them, things would have been a lot more difficult.”Governor Sanwo-Olu described Marcelle Ruth Cancer Centre as a story of courage, resilience, forthrightness, tenacity and the willingness not to give up, and used the opportunity of the launch to intimate guests at the occasion about Lagos State’s intervention strategies in the health sector.
  • The Lagos helmsman further added that: “We are donating one specialist cancer centre within the next 12 months to add to MRCC and the oncology center in LUTH. Looking at the statistics, we need ten more just to scratch the surface based on the number of cancer patients we are seeing.
  • This is part of the medical infrastructure transformation project we are working on which cuts across all the disciplines of health – primary, secondary and tertiary.”Earlier in her remarks, the visioner and Chief Executive Officer of the hospital, Modupe Elebute-Odunsi, who was full of thanks and gratitude to everyone who have been part of the journey which has spanned over 30 years, described Marcelle Ruth Cancer Centre as a hospital aiming to achieve international standards in the middle of Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria.
  • Dr. Elebute-Odunsi re-echoed Governor Sanwo-Olu’s vision of reversing medical tourism saying, “Mr Governor, I must say that we share your vision and your passion to reverse medical tourism in Nigeria.
  • We need to do it together, between the private and public sectors because this is the time.Another worthy intervention where the CBN could take credit is the emergence of the Duchess
  • By December 2021 the CBN disbursed had N108.65bn to hospitals and pharmaceutical industry in 18 months.A CBN  statutory Monetary Policy Committee meeting report highlighted this.
  • The report noted: “The bank has also cumulatively disbursed the sum of N108.65bn to hospitals and pharmaceutical industry; 54 of the 117 projects funded are for hospital services.“The committee was gratified that the funding under health sector has resulted in the establishment of two new cancer centres, over 59 MRI and more than 42 CT scan centres in Nigeria, within the last 18 months.”The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said recently that medical tourism was putting a huge strain on the country’s foreign reserves.Emefiele said the CBN and other banks would support the healthcare sector to reverse the trend.
  • He said, “Medical tourism puts a huge strain on our foreign reserves, and more importantly, for every $1bn allocated to medical treatment abroad, there is less than $1bn that could be available to other critical sectors of our economy.
  • He said to further drive the recovery of the economy, the monetary policy recognised that while the interventions in the manufacturing sector were essential, it was also important to continue to give support to the medical sector.
  • He encouraged banks to lend and the private sector to also invest in the country.Emefiele said the CBN would tell the banks to help restructure the loan facilities of the hospital as it was pleased with the project. Another landmark CBN populist project done under Emefiele included the inauguration of the Duchess Interns Hospital which been an innovative template in the grooming of medical practitioners.
  • By all account, notwithstanding the many sickish in the Nigerian economy, Emefiele within the scope of the political power leverages at his disposal managed to impact on the consciousness of Nigerians, at least symbolically that it is possible for the apex bank to marry emotions and policy.