A total of 82 projects received about N85.89billion in funding support to conduct research and development interventions towards finding solutions to the Coronavirus pandemic since the virus broke out in Nigeria last year, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele who disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja at the award of grants under the CBN’s Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme said the benefiting projects included 26 pharmaceutical and 56 medical projects across the country.
The scheme was introduced last year by the apex bank following the release of the implementation guidelines and subsequent inauguration of the Scheme’s Body of Experts in July 2020 as part of the CBN’s policy response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The initiative was aimed at promoting research and development activities towards developing vaccines and drugs against the spread of other communicable and non-communicable diseases.
Under the scheme, grants were provided to researchers and healthcare institutions in the country for the development of vaccines, drugs and local herbal medicines capable of helping curtail the spread of COVID-19 and any other communicable or non-communicable diseases.
Speaking at the award event in Abuja, Emefiele said the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, which had an unprecedented effect on the global economy, affected the healthy and safe workforce.
Finding a solution to curtail the continued spread of the virus, he said, was critical for continued economic growth as well as the stability of the financial system.
Emefiele said so far over 286 proposals have been received from the general public by the Body of Experts.
Out of the 286 proposals, Emefiele said about 68 have already been evaluated, out of which five with significant merits valued at about N253.54million recommended by the experts for financing.
He said some of the recommended proposals also have the potential to enable the development of the Nigerian-made vaccine for COVID-19.
While the review of proposals was ongoing, the CBN governor said the committee was expected to provide recommendations for additional awards of grants in due course.
“Today’s grant awards are a testimony to the significant role research and development in healthcare could play in supporting economic growth, particularly as growth is highly dependent on a strong and healthy workforce.
“Meeting our need for a strong and healthy workforce with better safety profiles is a task that can only be addressed through a healthcare sector that provides for significant investments in Research and Development.
“A vibrant and innovative health care system is also vital for our national security; we all witnessed how a number of countries and territories adopted stringent and immediate export restrictions on critical medical supplies and drugs that were specifically meant to help countries respond to the spread of the virus.
“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,” the CBN governor said.
He urged the awards recipients to utilize the opportunity offered them by the CBN judiciously, by striving to achieve the purposes of their research, by ensuring their projects met the set targets, aims and objectives of supporting the development of vaccines and drugs in Nigeria.
Emefiele said he remained optimistic that this would offer the average Nigerian access to much needed vaccines and drugs for not just COVID-19, but other communicable or non-communicable diseases.
He reiterating that the CBN is committed to the successful implementation of the Scheme, hence we will ensure the review and evaluation of subsequent applications.