Managing Director, Sterling Bank Plc, Mr. Abubakar Suleiman, has restated that the bank would continue to give massive support for Nigeria’s healthcare system.
Speaking at the National COVID-19 Summit in Abuja, Suleiman disclosed that Sterling Bank provided technical support for the Presidential Steering Committee and other stakeholders in the planning of the summit.
He also acknowledged the outstanding work of the genome sequencing team of South Africa who helped to identify and mapped out the Omicron variant of COVID, remarking that the qualities of their resilience, perseverance and innovation have birthed work that has given the world a chance to get ahead of the new dimension of the on-going pandemic.
The CEO also highlighted the key numbers on Nigeria’s healthcare, which is projected to contribute three percent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2021 with three quarters of those contributions coming from the private sector.
On the role of private sector financing in health emergencies, Suleiman said there was a need to expand the private sector’s role from a funding channel to full partner that assesses the current national and sub-national frameworks for healthcare delivery.
He also advocated for a push in Public Private Partnerships (PPP) to achieve framework redesign and improve delivery, efficiency and cost of medical assistance as well as the need to introduce the constructs of public good and positive externality as reasons for continued private sector financing in healthcare, adding that the secondary role for the private sector includes monitoring and evaluation functions for the sole objective of continuously improving on the progress made in the past two years.
He said the bank had been working with Lagos, Cross River, Bayelsa, Kaduna and Ekiti state governments on building more robust and resilient structures to manage emergencies better, remarking that in Cross River, the bank and a consortium of partners have been heavily involved in the design and implementation of a health insurance scheme, along with other policies, to digitize and improve access to records and ensure availability and delivery of pharmaceutical to create a de-risked health care value chain.
The bank is also working with the Lagos State Government on its newly launched Lagos State Mass Vaccination program that expands vaccination points beyond publicly run primary healthcare centers to include privately owned facilities.
The Sterling Bank CEO commended the public and private sectors for the role they played in the nation’s response to this current emergency, adding that this response is proving a moderate success, given the circumstances and as evidenced by the optimistic economic growth. He said there was need to consolidate these successes by encoding them as part of the national healthcare architecture going forward and calling on continuous participation from the private sector.
Also speaking, Sterling Bank’s Divisional Head for Health Finance, Mr. Obinna Ukachukwu, said the health sector can always count on the support of the bank, adding that the bank’s intervention in the economy covers other sectors, including education, agriculture, renewable energy and transport.
Ukachukwu said, “We don’t just sit out there as a financial institution to make money without impact. We are impact-led, believing that as we contribute our quota to developing the country, we would build an economy that is sustainable for everyone. And I will like to reaffirm our commitment, especially to the health sector.”