BY AGENCY REPORTER
In its quest to get the vaccine for the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria on Tuesday awarded more than N234million in research grants to five beneficiaries of its Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme.
The recipients of the grants were Professor of Epidemiology, Olufemi Babalola, who got a grant of N50million; Professor of Microbiology, Ikechukwu Okoli, from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, who also got N50 million grant.
Others are Dr Garba Bubah from Jigawa State Polytechnic, who received N42.1million grant; while Dr John Ogedemgbe from the University of Abuja; and Dr Otega Ejofodomi, an Electrical Engineering lecturer from the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, received N50million and N42.4 million, respectively.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, in a goodwill message at the event, commended CBN for providing support to the health sector, especially with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mustapha, who is also the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, said the HSRDIS was part of the apex bank‘s policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that the idea was to help strengthen Nigeria‘s public healthcare system with innovative financing into new and improved drugs, vaccines and diagnostics to fight infectious diseases.
“COVID-19 came with adverse and negative effects, but it has also provided an opportunity for us to transform our healthcare delivery system.
“This HSRDIS by the CBN will translate to establishing formidable institutions so that when we are confronted with another pandemic, future generations will benefit from those institutions.
“I appreciate the CBN governor and his management team for this initiative. It could not have come at a better time than now,’’ the SGF said.
CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the fragilities of Nigeria‘s healthcare delivery system.
Emefiele said that a healthy and safe workplace was necessary for continuous economic growth as well as the stability of the financial system.
He described healthcare as the bedrock of the development of any nation, which deserved adequate funding for its research and development.
“CBN, working with the Federal Government, has decided that we must begin to look inwards and provide for ourselves.
“That was the main reason why CBN set up the Body of Experts, chaired by Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, Director General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, to steer the HSRDIS.
“Emphasis on research and development in developed countries has helped in the development of COVID-19 vaccines,’’ he said.
Emefiele said that over 200 proposals were received out of which 68 had been graded and the best five picked.
He said that the scheme would provide grants to enable research and development activities into vaccines, drugs and herbal medicines for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
He called on other corporate institutions to collaborate with the CBN to fund research and development for the good of all Nigerians while urging the recipients to make judicious use of the grants.