Two weeks after Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, inaugurated the Body of Experts (BoE) for the Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme (HSRDIS), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Tuesday, August 4, 2020, unveiled the guidelines for the Healthcare Research and Development Grant.
The scheme will be funded from the Developmental Component of the CBN’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Fund (MSMEDF), of which applicants are eligible to a maximum of N50m for research activities, and N500m limit for development/manufacturing activities.
Disbursement of funds to beneficiaries under the scheme shall be in tranches, subject to approved milestones achieved, the guideline added, even as the timeframe for research and development shall not be more than two years from the date of release of fund. That for development/manufacturing activities shall not be beyond one year from the date of release of fund.
The HSRDIS, the guideline explained, “is designed to trigger intense national R&D activities to develop a Nigerian vaccine, drugs and herbal medicines against the spread of COVID-19 and any other communicable or non-communicable diseases.”
This is to be achieved by providing grants to biotechnological and pharmaceutical companies, institutions, researchers, and research institutes for the research and development of drugs, herbal medicines and vaccines for the control, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.
Applicants for the grant, according to the guideline, must “have conducted preclinical testing of the candidate drugs, herbal medicines and vaccines, and obtained certification from relevant health authorities for further research and development.”
Special consideration will, however, be “given to candidate drugs, herbal medicines and vaccines with high scientific merit against emerging infections and contribute to the development of the Nigerian vaccine.”
Each applicant must submit application, with relevant documentation of validation from relevant health authorities, trial results, patent registration details (if any) and development timetable to the BoE, which shall evaluate such and recommend to the CBN. The apex bank shall review each for documentation adequacy and completeness, and upon approval, release the grant sum to the applicant’s account with any participating financial institution of his/her choice.
The beneficiary is expected to submit periodic progress report on the project to the CBN, which shall have “proprietary right over all financed R&D outcomes or products.
“Licensing protocol for the mass manufacturing of developed drugs, phytomedicines and vaccines shall be defined by the BoE in accordance with the World Health Organisation’s current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP),” the guideline stated.
Speaking at the inauguration of the BoE for the scheme, Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, said 20 projects valued at N26.278bn had been funded under its N100bn credit support intervention for the industry.
The HSRDIS, chaired by the Director-General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, he explained, was designed to increase Nigeria’s research and development activities to support the development of validated Nigeria-made vaccines, drugs and herbal medicines.
It is also expected to address challenges militating research and development investment in Nigeria’s healthcare sector.