Sterling Bank Plc. has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Cross River State Government and a consortium of healthcare providers to provide services for the Cross River Health Supply Chain Transformation Project.
Speaking at the signing ceremony in Lagos over the weekend, Mr. Obinna Ukachukwu, Divisional Head, Health and Education Sectors with Sterling Bank, said, “I am excited that this is happening. It is the beginning of good things to come and I hope other states in the country would replicate the strategy that has been put in place by the Cross River State Government to address the challenges in its health supply chain.”
He said Sterling Bank would de-risk any sector of the Nigerian economy that is willing to adopt a similar strategy through re-imagining finance. This is about putting in place the structure to render service before introducing formal banking transactions in a bid to ensure a win-win situation for the parties involved in the arrangement, he said.
The MoU is sequel to the bank’s partnership with the Cross River State Government on the implementation of a Health Insurance Scheme tagged: Ayade Care. The scheme was launched recently in Calabar, the state capital, as part of an effort to achieve health insurance cover for vulnerable citizens in Cross River.
Ukachukwu explained that health is one of the five sectors where Sterling Bank is concentrating investments under its HEART’s of Sterling programme in a bid to make impact in the Nigerian economy. The other sectors are Education, Agriculture, Renewable Energy and Transportation.
Also speaking, Dr. Betta Edu, Commissioner for Health, Cross River State, expressed happiness at state’s readiness to finally implement the Health Supply Chain Transformation Project. She explained that the state’s healthcare policy revolves around providing quality healthcare services through universal health coverage, adding that there is absolutely no way the state could achieve its objective without functional pharmaceutical services.
She said, “We are ready to drive this innovative arrangement to get results and what is very important to us is to ensure that people get universal access to quality medicines. We will ensure that people in rural areas, general hospitals, secondary facilities and private facilities, primary healthcare centres and even dispensaries have access to drugs.
“We will open the entire horizon to those who are coming in from primary institutions. We hope to run it with the speed of light because we have lost some time already and we hope in the next two to three months, we will be ready with facilities and drugs so that we can be up and running.”
Dr. Edu said the state government would like to shift emphasis from being directly involved in the healthcare sector and restrict itself to regulatory and supportive roles while adopting a private sector driven approach like India. According to her, health services in India jumped from zero level to about 90 percent with the adoption of private sector involvement in its health care sector.
Besides Sterling Bank and Cross River State Government, other parties in the Health Supply Chain Transformation Project include Horts Medikals Limited, Drugstoc and Zipline. Under the arrangement, Horts Medikals will purchase all the pharmaceutical products for Drugstoc to warehouse while Zipline will use drone technology to deliver them across the state.