By Kayode Tokede
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, has inaugurated the Body of Experts (BoE) for the Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme (HSRDIS) established by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The Board of Experts chaired by the Director-General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, is expected to address challenges that limit Research and Development investment in the healthcare sector.
Performing the inauguration, Mr. Mustapha noted that the current corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic had uncovered the gaps in the country’s health, governance, security infrastructure.
While commending the efforts of the CBN at addressing the flaws in the public health system through its landmark intervention, the SGF stressed that adding that the pandemic represented Nigeria with a fresh opportunity to reposition its health system and redress all the deficiencies in the sector as well as other infrastructure.
Mr. Mustapha expressed confidence in the composition of the body to deliver on the onerous task, stressing that the CBN intervention would set Nigeria’s healthcare system on the path of recovery.
In his remarks, the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, said the Body of Experts (BOE) was established to review and evaluate submitted research proposals and provide recommendations for financing the identified R&D proposals.
Mr. Emefiele disclosed that 20 projects valued at N26.278 Billion had been funded under the N100billion credit support intervention for the healthcare industry, adding that the CBN HSRDIS was designed to increase Nigeria’s research and development activities to support the development of validated Nigeria-made vaccines, drugs and herbal medicines.
He further disclosed that the CBN would provide grants to biotechnological and pharmaceutical companies, institutions, researchers, and research institutes, to boost domestic capacity to curb the spread of COVID-19 and other communicable or non-communicable diseases.
Stressing the need to support capacity of relevant health agencies towards attaining World Health Organisation (WHO) Maturity Level 3 prerequisite for manufacturing of vaccines in Nigeria, Mr. Emefiele said the Bank would facilitate partnership between academia (researchers, research institutes and universities) and industry to research and develop drugs, phytomedicines and vaccines for the control, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases in Nigeria
Emefiele said a major objective for the Bank was also to reduce dependence on imported drug products (synthetic and herbal) and vaccines for the control, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases in Nigeria.
“Attention will be paid to research projects with high potential to contribute to the development of the Nigerian vaccines that will help curb the spread infectious diseases.
“All submissions will be subjected to strict scientific and empirical scrutiny considered to be best in class,” Emefiele added.
In her response the Chairperson of the Body of Experts and DG, NAFDAC, Prof. Adeyeye assured that the body “will diligently seek the truth by ascertaining how the hypothesis driven questions raised in the proposals will be answered.”
She noted that the success of the exercise will increase access to medical products which could impact positively the health of our population, create jobs and expand trade whilst reducing the over dependence on importation and further encourage local production.
Other members of the body of experts are Prof. Babatunde Lawal, Professor Richard A. Adegbola, Prof. Alex Akpa, Professor Isa Marte Hussaini, Prof. Abdulhamid Ahmed, Dr. Chinwe Lucia Ochu and Dr. Philip Fafowora Builders.