Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele has said that the apex bank increased its health sector credit support facility to N200 billion from N100 billion. Emefiele said this in Lagos at the opening ceremony of the Duchess International Hospital He said that the apex bank has already disbursed N107 billion to 114 projects in the health sector. Emefiele said that the decision to increase the Health Sector Credit Support Facility to N200 billion was in response to rise in demand and also its commitment to save foreign exchange spent on medical tourism. The CBN Governor said: “Medical tourism puts a huge strain on our foreign reserves and more importantly, for every $1 billion allocated to medical treatment abroad, there is less than $1 billion that could be available to other critical sectors of our economy.
“As part of this effort, the CBN led by a select private sector stakeholders supported Covid-19 through CACOVID and in a bid to further drive the recovery of our economy, monetary policy recognised that while the interventions in our manufacturing sector is essential it is also essential, we continue to give support to the medical sector of our country. When intervention on COVID commenced, CBN set aside N100 billion to support the healthcare sector, but upon rise in demand, we have disbursed N107.7 billion, supporting 114 healthcare projects which include medical diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, dental services, eye clinics both private and public hospital just to mention a few. We had taken up N100 to support but the monetary policy has said we should move it further up to N200 billion. We would continue to do whatever can be done to support healthcare.”
Also speaking at the ceremony Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who was the special Guest of Honour, called for increased private sector participation in the health sector so as to forestall the increasing trend of medical tourism and also human capital flight of medical practitioners. Osinbajo commended the quality of the health infrastructure and personnel at the Duchess Hospital, saying, “The standards and personnel at this hospital is comparable to anywhere in the world and reversing medical tourism by delivering high standards of care would go a long way by using the most advanced technology and treatment to give the fastest most convenient access to the best medical expertise available anywhere in the world. With investments like this seeking high quality medical personnel we can even reverse the trend of doctors leaving the country. The reasons for their leaving are obvious: better remuneration, better facilities.
“Private sector investments in high quality healthcare services offering top compensation for its personnel could possibly create an attractive proposition to reverse the trend. so the only way that we can ensure that people stay is obviously to reward their services and I think that this is a good way to start..” On his part, the Chairman Reddington Hospital Group, owners of the Duchess International Hospital, Dr. Adeyemi Onabowale noted that one of the major problems with healthcare in Nigeria is inadequate funding provided for both the public and the private sector, this needs to be addressed. He also added that the true cost of healthcare anywhere in the world is phenomenal with the depreciating currency. Healthcare funding should be benchmarked against a stable currency.