The Central Bank of Nigeria says it has received more than 20 applications requesting for N67 billion grants under its Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, disclosed this during the inauguration of the Body of Experts for the Scheme in Abuja on Monday.
Emefiele explained that the programme was designed to increase the nation’s Research and Development activities that would help support the development of Nigeria made vaccines, drugs and herbal medicines.
He said through the provision of grants to biotechnological and pharmaceutical companies, institutions, researchers and research institutes, the country’s domestic capacity to curb the spread of COVID-19 and other communicable or non-communicable diseases would be improved.
According to him, it is expected that these grants will be channeled by these institutions to fund research and development of drugs, herbal medicines and vaccines for the control, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.
Emefiele said: “Providing grants for Research and Development in new or revalidation of drug molecules, phytomedicines and vaccines will help in the control, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases in Nigeria.
“It will boost domestic manufacturing of validated drugs (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients or APIs), herbal medicines and vaccines for the control, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases in Nigeria.
“And this will reduce the nation’s dependence on other countries for these drugs and vaccines.
“It will also improve the capacity of the biotechnological and pharmaceutical companies, institutions, researchers, and research institutes in the development of approved Nigerian drugs, herbal medicines and vaccines for infectious diseases.
“This will help to support the capacity of relevant health agencies toward attaining WHO Maturity Level three, a prerequisite for manufacturing of vaccines in Nigeria.”
In his remarks, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, while inaugurating the body of experts commended CBN for the intervention.
Mustapha said COVID-19 had exposed the weakness of Nigeria’s health and governance systems as well as security infrastructure.
He said the intervention by CBN had set the country on the path of recovery.
He said: “I often mention it that we do not have an opportunity of reconsidering the reconstruction of our health infrastructure in this country.
“This is a golden opportunity that has availed itself.
“And it will be the greatest disappointment of our time and generation, if we do not seize the opportunity to redress all deficiencies we have in our health system and other infrastructure in this country.”
The SGF expressed confidence on members of the body of experts charged with the responsibility.
Mustapha urged them to ensure that the process was driven by science, data and facts that would be available to them.
He said this was necessary as the country was dealing with advanced negative effect of COVID-19, adding that Nigeria would also set a new pace of its health care delivery system.
The chairperson of the body of experts, also the Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, lauded CBN for its interventions in the health sector.
Adeyeye said the charge of the Body of Experts was to review and evaluate submitted research proposals, as well as recommend the projects with high potential for financing.
This, she said was to ensure they contribute to development of the essential orthodox and herbal medicines and vaccines for infectious diseases.
She added that the charge was to arrive at a rational scientific decision that justifies the goal.
Adeyeye said: “Scientific research and development targets at the truth that is driven by a hypothesis, which is laden with questions that will need to be answered.
“The objectives are to build a body of knowledge that can be tested repeatedly with accuracy and to provide a description and explanation of natural events.
“It is also to predict conditions beyond the boundaries of existing possibilities in health, social or economic areas.”