The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is currently processing 34 applications requesting for a total of N90 billion out of its healthcare research grant.
Yila Yusuf, the director, development finance, while featuring on The Morning Show, a breakfast programme on ARISE NEWS Channel, said about 90 per cent of the applications were from Nigerian universities.
He said: “As we speak, as at today, we have received over 34 applications asking for N90 billion. What is exciting is that 90 per cent of those applications were from our universities.
“So, we are looking at how we can quickly get those proposals to the body of experts, they look at that, and then we can disburse the funds.”
Yusuf added that a body of experts to review the applications and make recommendations to the CBN was inaugurated two weeks ago by Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).
The group is led by Moji Adeyeye, the director-general of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration (NAFDAC), Prof. and consists of independent specialists and government research institutions.
He also said the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the National Pharmaceutical Research Institute, the Centre for Medical Research, are also part of the body of experts.
According to him, “Also, we have two independent research experts who are quite versatile in administering these grants. So they will administer the grants and anybody who is eligible can apply.
“The modalities are set out in the guidelines. They will look at the proposals, evaluate them and recommend to the CBN and then we would eventually disburse.”
The CBN director said the applications received were from both public and private universities, while some of the manufacturing companies in Nigeria also applied for the grant.
“So, all these would be looked at by the body of experts and they will make recommendations. They have already set to work. You should be seeing some of their communications in the newspapers in the coming days, asking for more clarifications for some proposals they’ve received.
“They’ve tried to streamline the format so that they can easily score them and make submissions for the CBN for approval and eventually disbursement to the successful candidates,” Yusuf said.
He reiterated that the CBN has N100 billion intervention fund for the health sector, which is being accessed at five per cent interest rate.
“We funded over 24 manufacturers and healthcare centres. We’ve disbursed N13 billion.
“Two of them are from brownfield and the remaining are greenfield projects. Most of them have increased the lines of drugs they manufacture,” he said.
When asked if there was a sunset period for the repayment of the fund, he said: “In the next few days, you will see some communication from the body of experts.
We are expecting that all submissions from those who are applying should be before October 30th.
“We set two years and 24 months for us to be able to disburse.”
Speaking about how the intervention in the health sector ties into other healthcare initiatives of the government in relation to COVID-19, he said: “I think it’s a complementary effort. CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele has been worried about the huge outflows we spend on medicals, both medical tourism and the cost of drugs that we purchase, especially from Asia.
“And the numbers are quite staggering. We believe that with adequate research, we can bring down the prices of drugs, especially around herbal medicines, we should be able to do something on that area.
“So, this is a complementary effort.