Nigeria spent a total of $6.23m on foreign healthcare-related services from January to August 22, 2023, The PUNCH reports.
This is according to a report obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria on the amount spent on health-related and social services under the sectoral utilisation for transactions valid for foreign exchange.
According to the report, $0.17m was spent on foreign health-related services in January while $0.14m was spent in February.
The spending increased in March and April to $0.43m and $3.02m respectively.
The CBN report also showed that the country spent $0.79m in May and dropped to $0.42m in June.
The amount spent peaked in July at $0.46m and increased to $0.80m in August.
The PUNCH reports that the amount for the eight months this year is more that the amount spent ($1.47m) for the same period in 2021
Meanwhile, stakeholders have lamented poor access to forex for the importation and manufacturing of essential medicines.
The Association of Industrial Pharmacists of Nigeria, in a communiqué issued in September, had said some of the challenges faced by pharmaceutical industries include lack of infrastructure, inconsistent and mismanaged government policies, supply chain challenges, weak industrial linkages, weak technology, and engineering base, poor access to forex, lack of petrochemical industries to enable Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients production as well as inadequate incentives.
“NAIP, therefore, calls on the Nigerian government to resolve the lingering crisis in securing forex for the importation and manufacturing of essential medicines as this is becoming one of the greatest threats to the growth of the Pharma Industry in Nigeria,” it said.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, however, admitted that there is a shortage of foreign exchange to meet the import needs of Nigerians and challenged financial institutions to proffer solutions to the problem.
Speaking at the 2022 Bankers’ Committee retreat in Lagos, Emefiele said collaborative programmes and initiatives of the Bankers’ Committee have delivered tangible contributions to the nation’s economic prosperity.
He said “Recognising the hindrances of high inflation and foreign exchange shortages on the achievement of our national development goals, the 2022 Retreat is convened to focus on the development of the local manufacturing industry and non-oil sectors, more broadly, and particularly to enhance the sector’s capacity to generate foreign exchange inflows.
“The focus is, even more, germane considering the enormity of the global economic turbulence, as wave after wave of negative shocks continue to ravage many countries.”