• Saturday, June 15, 2024
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BusinessDay

Investors interest in Nigeria’s health sector swells on policies, reforms – Pate

Nigerians await yields as Tinubu’s bold health reforms draw $4.8bn

…partners commit $3bn so far

…as FG gives states N260bn to revitalize primarily healthcare centres

…raises enrolment into medical, nursing schools to 64,000 to address japa

Muhammad Pate, the coordinating minister of health and social welfare has said investors are now showing a growing interest in Nigeria’s health sector driven by the policy shifts of President Bola Tinubu.

Pate, speaking on Friday when he was featured at the ministerial sectoral update organized by the Ministry of Information and National Orientation to mark Tinubu’s one year in office said several foreign investors have already committed to investing in manufacturing, adding that Nigeria will soon begin local manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, kits and other medical consumables in the country.

The minister informed that a Brazilian entity has already committed $240 million to establish a generic manufacturing plant in Nigeria, while two other firms have also shown interest in the production of test kits, which has been one of the biggest imports for many decades.

He also said partners in the health sector including private sector partners, and international partners have announced a $3 billion commitment to the sector.

Pate said the Presidential initiative to unlock the healthcare value chain which the President unveiled in October 2023, and the executive order currently underway and expected to remove barriers on the importation of raw materials for production in Nigeria are some of the policies stimulating the appetite of investors.

“Tinubu is keen on domesticating production, to see that we are producing what we need; pharmaceuticals, vaccines, test kits which create jobs for our youths. Tinubu unveiled the presidential initiative to unlock the healthcare value chain and we have made steady progress”, Pate said.

“International investors have taken notice, the president has been very effective in marketing Nigeria and drawing foreign investment in the health sector. We are seeing increasing interest from external investors who are willing to come and produce in Nigeria.

“Three entities are producing test kits and two more are coming, and every day we hear interest to come and produce due to policy shifts of Mr. President”, the minister added.

Speaking on investment from the government, Pate, disclosed that the federal government has disbursed the sum of N260 billion to the 36 states for them to revitalize primary healthcare centres (PHCs).

“In terms of the revitalization, I am very pleased to announce that there is a N260 billion seating right now at the state level for the revitalization of PHCs”, Pate said.

The funding, sourced from the International Development Association and the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund, aims to expand the number of PHCs from 8,300 to 17,000, the minister added.

He explained that the goal is to refurbish these centres and enhance their functionality to deliver essential services such as immunization, child health services, and treatment of non-communicable diseases.

Pate emphasized that achieving this target requires the commitment of state governments to effectively implement the revitalization plan.

He noted previous instances of mismanagement of health funds by states and highlighted the federal government’s provision of guidelines to ensure that resources are used as intended.

“We looked at how PHC resources were previously utilized and we realized that there were major gaps . I want to call out our state governors to ensure that the resources will go to the intended purposes in terms of infrastructure, training, and others because implementation is at the state level”, Pate urged.

Additionally, the minister disclosed that 23 states have so far accessed the N25 billion BHCPF for primary healthcare services while the rest are at various levels of meeting the criteria.

In efforts to address brain drain, one of the major issues in Nigeria’s health sector, Pate, informed that the enrolment into medical schools has been doubled from 28,000 to 64,000 annually in a bid to address the impact of the exit of Nigerian health workers.

“We doubled the enrolment in quotas of medical schools, nursing schools and other health professional schools from 28,000 to 64,000 a year. That is just the first step, the education sector will have to play in, the states will have to play in, to improve the infrastructure to produce more health workforce, giving that we are losing some so that we can serve the population of this country”, Pate said.

He also said the government is committed to training more health workers to build their capacity.

He restated that the government is still committed to the plan to train 120,000 frontline healthcare workers at the primary healthcare level across states in the next three years.