By Omodele Adigun
In a bid to help build a robust healthcare infrastructure, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it has so far disbursed over N83.9 billion in loans to pharmaceutical companies and healthcare practitioners.
Its Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who disclosed this at the weekend in Lagos during the launch of the documentary film,“Unmasked”, lamented that Nigerians’ out of pocket expenses on healthcare had risen to 76 percent of total healthcare expenditure.
Noting that the development of a robust healthcare infrastructure is vital for the progress of any society, he explained that addressing the public health crisis along with the downturn in the economy required strong coordination from both the monetary and fiscal authorities.”This work will require the collaborative efforts of both public and private sector stakeholders,” he added.
On the CBN efforts by the health sector to contain the pandemic , Emefiele said: “In this regard, we disbursed over N83.9 billion in loans to pharmaceutical companies and healthcare practitioners, which is supporting 26 pharmaceutical and 56 medical projects across the country. We were also able to mobilise key stakeholders in the Nigerian economy through the CACOVID alliance, which led to the provision of over N25billion in relief materials to affected households, and the set-up of 39 isolation centres across the country. These measures helped to expand and strengthen the capacity of our healthcare institutions to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
One key aspect which we would have to address is improving access to healthcare for all Nigerians. A key factor that has impeded access to healthcare for Nigerians is the prevailing cost of healthcare services.According to a study by WHO, only 4 per cent of Nigerians have access to health insurance. Beside food, healthcare expenses are a significant component of the average Nigerian’s personal expenditure. Out of pocket expenses on healthcare amount to close to 76 percent of total healthcare expenditure. At such levels of health spending, individuals particularly those in rural communities may be denied access to healthcare services.