In a bid to help build a robust health care infrastructure, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it has so far disbursed over N83.9 billion in loans to pharmaceutical companies and health professionals. 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 health cost. Noting that the growth of a strong healthcare infrastructure is vital for the progress of any society, he clarified that addressing the public health disaster together with the downturn in the economy required strong coordination from the fiscal and monetary authorities.
” This job will require the collaborative efforts of public and private industry stakeholders,” he added. On the CBN attempts by the healthcare industry to contain the pandemic, Emefiele said: “In this regard, we analyzed 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 mobilize key stakeholders in the economy throughout the CACOVID alliance, which led to the supply of over an N25billion in relief materials to affected households, and also the set-up of 39 isolation centers throughout the country. These steps helped to expand and strengthen the power of our healthcare institutions to react to the COVID-19 pandemic. One key aspect which we’d need to tackle is improving access to healthcare for many Nigerians.
A key factor that has impeded access to health care for Nigerians is the prevailing cost of health care services. According to a study by WHO, just 4 percent of Nigerians have access to medical insurance. Besides food, healthcare expenses are a substantial component of the normal Nigerian’s personal expenditure. Out-of-pocket expenses on healthcare amount to close to 76% of total health expenditure. At such levels of wellbeing, individuals especially those in rural communities may be denied access to healthcare providers.