Nigeria’s leading lender to healthcare industry, Sterling Bank Plc and the Healthcare Federation of Nigeria (HFN) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will enable the lender to provide finance for further digitisation of operations of members of HFN as well as offer financial advisory services to them.
Speaking at the signing ceremony in Lagos recently, Mr. Obinna Ukachukwu, Divisional Head, Health and Education Sectors of Sterling Bank said, “We are hoping to achieve digitisation, financing and financial advisory services for members of HFN. We have been working on it for some months now and the goal is to see how we can upgrade every healthcare operator from manual record keeping to a digital system.”
According to him, Sterling Bank has always felt that one of the challenges facing the healthcare sector is the lack of proper documentation or inability to keep suitable records of operations. This state of affairs has made it difficult for financial institutions to examine the books of healthcare practitioners in a transparent manner, he said.
Ukachukwu said, “With HFN being the umbrella body for all the serious healthcare professionals in the country, it is better to partner with the group to drive a process like this because it is an accountability group that could help members learn from one another.”
He said, “We are trying to introduce transparency which will enable HFN members to have access to finance at different levels and we are optimistic that this would help scale up the industry.”
Also speaking, Dr. Pamela Ajayi, President of HFN who commended Sterling Bank for its commitment to the healthcare industry, remarked that the bank has been involved in the sector for more than 20 years ago through Magnum Trust Bank, which invested in a company she founded as an SME. Magnum Trust is one of the legacy banks that formed Sterling Bank during the consolidation in the banking industry.
She described the MoU as another step in the right direction and a huge step for all healthcare practitioners because the terms that Sterling Bank is giving them are exceptional. The terms would ensure that HFN members will be able to achieve their objectives through this funding, she said.
Dr. Ajayi, who is the founder and CEO of Synlab Nigeria, noted that the digitisation aspect of the MoU is useful in so many ways because apart from increasing access to finance, it would also help with the health outcomes in line with global trends because every healthcare provider that is digitally inclined would remain in business for long.
Dr. Ajayi who explained the mechanics of the MoU, said what HFN is trying to achieve is to make it easier for members that qualify to have access to finance at good interest rates and speed up their investments.
According to her, HFN is also interested in ensuring that members take full advantage of Sterling Bank’s drive to give opportunities to healthcare providers so that they can gain access to ERM and HMS systems while also benefitting from financial advisory services provided by the bank