The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced an ambitious plan to bring together health researchers and domestic drug manufacturers in a coordinated effort to control Covid-19 and other diseases through development of local drugs, herbal remedies and vaccines.
The plan is known as the Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme (HSRDIS), through which the CBN will provide grants to researchers, local drugs manufacturers, research institutions, and health agencies to research and develop drugs to fight diseases and to get Nigeria certified to manufacture vaccines.
The Scheme is to be funded from the Developmental Component of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Fund (MSMEDF), CBN said.
The nation’s banker has already released guidelines for this scheme which it hopes will trigger “intense” research activities among four target groups including
- researchers working to develop or revalidate “drug molecules, phytomedicines and vaccines for the control, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases,”
- drug manufacturing companies producing active pharmaceutical ingredients of validated drugs, herbal medicines and vaccines,
- biotechnological and pharmaceutical companies, institutions, researchers, and research institutes that develop approved drugs, herbal medicines and vaccines, and
- health agencies working to enable Nigeria to attain WHO Maturity Level 3, a certification that will allow the country to locally manufacture vaccines.
CBN says it hopes to use the grants to not only bring academic researchers and industry drugs manufacturers together but also to reduce Nigeria’s dependence on imported drugs that are being used to control, prevent and treat infectious diseases.
“The Scheme is intended to boost domestic manufacturing of critical drugs and vaccines to ensure their sustainable domestic supply and reduce the bulk manufacturing costs of the drugs, herbal medicines and vaccines in Nigeria,” according to the guidelines, released by the Development Finance Directorate of the Bank.
How to Apply for the Grants
According to the guidelines, grants will not be given for vaccines that are undergoing pre-clinical testing or trials unless they are considered to have “high potential to cross the clinical trial stage and prospects of scale by a body of experts” to be constituted by the CBN to review them.
Those applying for vaccine grants 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 shall 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.”
All applications will be reviewed by a Board of Experts who will also make recommendations for disbursement of the grants, such board to be constituted by the Bank.
The Board of Experts will be made up of two expert health researchers and a nominee each from National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigeria Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), and the Federal Ministry of Health.
Potential beneficiaries shall be granted a maximum of N50 million for researches, and N500 million for drugs development and manufacturing, all of which will be disbursed in tranches.