Committing 2.019 Billion Naira to the Country’s Health Sector for Economic Growth – Blueprint Newspapers Limited

AMAKA IFEAKANDU examines the impact of FirstBank’s initiatives in the health sector and their contribution to stemming the tide of COVID-19 in Nigeria.

Nigeria’s first and leading financial inclusion service provider continued to play an active role in supporting the country’s health sector.

The bank has developed the Health Finance Loan for registered pharmacies, private hospitals and other health service providers. The loan is specifically designed to finance working capital, storage of medicines and medical supplies, and the purchase of medical equipment for hospitals.

In addition to providing funds to medical, dental and healthcare professionals to help their practice thrive, the Bank has played an active role in public-private sector initiatives that have gone a long way in combating the spread of coronavirus in the world. country.

Financial aid

From January to date, FirstBank has supported national healthcare delivery with N2.019 billion to fund healthcare facilities. A breakdown of the sum showed that the bank has disbursed N1.531 billion in loans in 238 transactions in 2021 and granted credit facilities of N488.050 million in 65 transactions from January to date.

The facilities, according to the bank, helped to mitigate the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic which ravaged the global economy in 2020. The loans, it added, were granted in accordance with the wishes of the Bank Central Nigeria (CBN) to support the economy.

Data available from FirstBank showed the loans were aimed at pharmacies, hospitals, diagnostic centers and pharmacies, adding that the number of people who accessed the loan in 2021 was 238 while 65 customers participated January to date.

The bank also said the top three Unique Selling Propositions (USPs) are overdraft facilities, unsecured and competitive interest rates which amounted to 18.26%.

Awards/recognition

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the bank received global recognition for its contribution to the development of various socio-economic activities, including the healthcare sector.

In 2019, the bank was among the 30 companies that were recognized at the Africa Safety Awards, for their exemplary performance in health and safety (HSE) at the first edition of the Africa Safety Award for Excellence (AfriSAFE) in Lagos.

FirstBank also won the 2019 AfriSAFE Financial Sector Award for its contribution to improving health, safety, environment and well-being in Africa.

COVID-19 initiatives

And with the outbreak of COVID -19 in 2020, “the bank has come up with different initiatives and campaigns such as ‘Tribute to Healthcare Workers’, ‘Have a Mask, Stay Safe’ Campaign, Children’s Health and Education” among others, to appreciate health workers and raise awareness about reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus in our communities. The campaign was also designed to support health care and child education activities in the country.

#FirstBankSaluts

In recognition of the good work that Nigerian healthcare workers are doing, all FirstBank staff members have transformed the world of social media and have inspired many Nigerians to do the same, through their various profile or profile pictures. display, using unique photo messages dedicated to healthcare workers battling the coronavirus pandemic. on the front line, with a hashtag #FirstBankSalutes.

In one of the images captioned “we salute our frontline warriors”, a healthcare worker was dressed in personal protective equipment ready for the task at hand and a message underneath reads: “no capes, just lab coats”. No superhuman abilities, just dedication, strength and compassion. As we play our part by staying home, we thank our healthcare professionals for being our Avengers.

Another image titled “The World Called and They Answered” features an image of a nose/mouth mask and a stethoscope. The message below reads: “There are many ways to say thank you to the healthcare professionals who are tackling COVID-19 and putting you first like FirstBank. One is to stay home, another is to share this message with someone.

“Like soldiers, health workers also face considerable mental stress. It is often forgotten that as human beings they feel the grief of loss when their patients succumb to the virus. They too have families and will therefore naturally fear that the virus will reach those they love most. »

Mask up, stay safe

In December 2020, the bank embarked on a digital campaign titled Mask Up, Stay Safe as part of its advocacy to encourage Nigerians to consciously protect each other from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The campaign urged everyone to follow safety and precautionary guidelines during the holiday season and was flagged using the bank’s personalized face mask filter on Instagram, consisting of the 125th anniversary design from FirstBank in Ankara fabric.

“The activities are structured to increase public awareness and participation in the bank’s SPARK (Start Performing Act of Random Kindness) initiative with the central goal of rekindling the moral values ​​of society, encouraging people to choose to do the right thing and by building an awareness/mindset of compassion and empathy, as well as giving to others with the goal of inspiring people to make a difference,” FirstBank explained.

Children’s health and education

It is a well-known fact that every country in the world, including Nigeria, celebrates Children’s Day every year to promote awareness of children’s rights, solidarity and the improvement of the well-being of children. children. While Nigeria celebrates the Day every year on May 27, other countries have their own special day to mark Children’s Day.

Children’s Day has been celebrated in Nigeria since 1964 as a national public holiday for primary and secondary school pupils/students, with various activities centered around them. The Day always provides an opportunity to promote and celebrate the rights of children, thereby building a better future for them.

The bank noted that “the COVID-19 outbreak which has disrupted education and restricted movement has compounded the plight of our children, who have also had to make so many mental and educational adjustments virtually overnight.”

According to UNICEF, “188 countries have imposed nationwide school closures during the pandemic, affecting more than 1.6 billion children and young people.”

This situation has only aggravated the existing educational crisis affecting schoolchildren in underdeveloped countries. And in its efforts to support children during the pandemic, FirstBank said, “Children’s education has been central to our values.”

The bank, during the nationwide lockdown in early 2020, announced that thousands of students enrolled and had access to e-learning solutions provided free of charge (in partnership with Roducate and the Lagos State Government ). This has helped many children continue their studies virtually while staying at home. The giant financial company also said it would continue to support and not give in to such interventions in line with its corporate mandate to “put you first!”

FirstBank’s perspective on various campaigns

Commenting on the bank’s various campaigns to support the healthcare sector, FirstBank Chief Executive Dr Adesola Adeduntan in a broadcast message titled “Selflessness and resilience in the face of adversity sets us apart and is the hallmark of hero,” cheered the health workers; doctors, nurses, all hospital staff and in fact all those who provide essential services; for consistently performing at their best, providing essential care in the face of this global challenge to humanity, at great and grave personal risk.

“All of us at FirstBank recognize and appreciate the efforts of our unsung heroes, the frontline Nigerians who are toiling day and night to care for and protect us all as we collectively fight this battle we face. We add our prayers to those of all Nigerians and uplift you at this time with all that we can offer.

“To that end, we hope that our ‘Thank You’ in its simplicity can help express our deep and heartfelt gratitude in recognition of your service to humanity.”

Appreciating these brave healthcare workers, he said Nigerians should not forget these words from Chatterjee: “COVID-19 will not be the last dangerous microbe we see. The heroism, dedication and selflessness of the medical staff allow us to reassure ourselves that we will defeat this virus.

“We must give these health workers all the support they need to do their job, be safe and stay alive…”

As part of the ‘Mask up, Stay Safe’ campaign, Adeduntan, said, “In the spirit of leading by example, I have uploaded my Instagram story with the virtual face mask and I beg your indulgence for join me in doing the same.”

“This campaign aims to inform our customers and the general public that staying safe and protected by wearing a face mask is paramount now, more than ever, as it is a means of mitigating the unforeseen tragedy of the second wave. of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Stay safe first!” he concluded.

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