By Olowogboyega Oyebade
Do you know that it was not for fun that the launch of Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) took place on 3 May, 2019, a day universally declared as the World Press Freedom Day? Do you know that there was a parallelism between the two events in our State and country? Do you know that as professional journalists celebrated this Day on 3 May, 2019, they must assist to include the campaign to support universal Health Insurance coverage for our State as part of their tasks imposed on them by Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended)? Do you know that it is not a bad idea at all to extend this Health Insurance Scheme to all professional journalists in our State and country? Come along.
Hurray! Are you aware that the Governor of the State of Osun has announced that the Osun Health Insurance Scheme will commence this month of May, 2019? Do you know that this is an insurance that covers the whole or a part of the risk of a person incurring medical expenses, spreading the risk over a large number of persons, thus making the expenditure less significant? Are you aware that by estimating the overall risk of health care and health system expenses over the risk pool, an insurer can develop a routine finance structure to provide the money to pay for the health care benefits specified in the insurance agreement? Do you know that the benefit is by no means profit-driven? Do you know that it provides for the payments of benefits as a result of sickness or injury, including insurance for losses from accident, medical expense, disability, or accidental death and dismemberment? Do you know that there is an exclusion clause in the contract agreement of most Health Insurance Policies that states that not all services are covered and that the insured are generally expected to pay for the cost of non-covered services?
As a prelude to the scheme, are you aware that MrAdegboyega Oyetola, the Governor, in fulfilment of his promise to improve health care delivery in the State, has begun a revamping of hospitals and Primary Healthcare Centres across the State? Do you know that the State of Osun boasts of 57 secondary and 876 primary healthcare facilities, out of which 332 are focal facilities that will implement the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF)? Do you know that this translates to one functional primary healthcare centreper ward? Do you know that we had never had it so good? Are you aware that the turn-around maintenance for nine General Hospitals with signature equipment, drugs, staff quarters with paved environment of high-resolution ambience is on the toughest gear and nearing completion this month?
Are you aware that quality healthcare is one of the cardinal programmes of All Progressives Congress-led administration? Do you know that considerable efforts have been made since the party came into power to put provision of quality health of the people on the front burner? Are you aware that as part of efforts to expand healthcare delivery, the administration of MrAdegboyega Oyetola has instituted the Osun Health Insurance Scheme to make healthcare affordable to all residents of the State under the scheme? Do you know that the Government of Mr Adegboyega Oyetola will also pay premium for the vulnerable people registered under the Scheme? With this Scheme, do you know that the people of the State will be able to access quality healthcare delivery without financial impediment at the right time and prevent avoidable deaths help the less privileged to get treatment in hospitals without facing huge medical bills? Do you know that quality healthcare delivery is a right of the people and that the scheme will prevent the burden of catastrophic health expenditure?
Are you aware that after 59 years of independence, Nigeria still ranks low among the World Health Organisation (WHO) member nations? Do you know that Health Insurance Scheme will improve health standard in our State and country and reverse the gloomy statistics that currently defines our collective health status? Do you know that we deserve a quality-denominated health standard? Do you know that there are some indices that are used to measure the Health Standard of a country? These are access to safe water supply, sewerage infrastructure, family planning, and preventable diseases that occur in Nigeria include HIV/AIDS, malaria and yellow fever, malnutrition, pollution and road traffic accidents. You care for it? Come along,
Are you aware that as at July, 2018, the population of Nigeria was 203,452,505 (July 2018 est.) thus making the country to be in the 7th position in the world? Are you aware that the age structure of Nigeria’s current population is:
0-14 years: 42.45% (male 44,087,799 /female 42,278,742)
15-24 years: 19.81% (male 20,452,045 /female 19,861,371)
25-54 years: 30.44% (male 31,031,253 /female 30,893,168)
55-64 years: 4.04% (male 4,017,658 /female 4,197,739)
65 years and over: 3.26% (male 3,138,206 /female 3,494,524) (2018 est.)
Do you know that the Dependency ratios are besmearing with as high as total dependency ratio standing at 88.2 %? Do you know that unemployment has constantly put the youth dependency ratio at 83 %? Do you know that the elderly dependency ratio is 5.1% (2015 est.) ? Are you aware that the potential support ratio is only 19.4 % (2015 est.) ? Do you know that the current population growth rate is 2.54% (2018 est.)? Do you know that the birth rate is 35.2 births/1,000 population (2018 est.) that puts Nigeria in the 20th position in the world? Do you know that we have a death rate of 9.6 deaths / 1000 population which puts Nigeria in 46th position in the world? Do you know that we have urban population to be 50.3% of total population (2018) and the rate of urbanization: to be 4.23% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)?
On maternal mortality rate, do you know that we have 814 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.) putting Nigeria in the 4th position? Do you know that we have infant mortality rate total of 63.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.) with male infant mortality rate of 69.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.) and infant female mortality rate of 57.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.) thus putting Nigeria in the 13th position in the world? Do you know that Life expectancy at birth of the total population is put at 59.3 years (2018 est.) with that of the male: at 57.5 years (2018 est.) and female at 61.1 years (2018 est.) thus putting the country in 211st position in the world? Do you know that we have total fertility rate at 4.85 children born/woman (2018 est.) thus putting Nigeria in the 16th position in the world? Do you know that Nigeria has only Health expenditures: of less than 4% of GDP , thus putting the country in 167th position in the world?
Do you know that despiteDr. Chris Ngige’s Medical Doctors Surplus Grand Theory of 2019, the actual Physicians density is just 0.38 physicians/1,000 population? Do you know that only 80.8% of population in the urban areas have improved water source with only57.3% of population in the rural areas having the same opportunities? Do you know that 19.2% of population in the urban areas drink from unimproved water sources, thus compromising their health? Do you know that 42.7% of the rural population from unimproved water sources? Do you know that only 67.2% of population (2015 est.) in the urban areas have access to improved sanitation facility with only 25.4% of population in the rural areas (2015 est.) enjoying such facilities? Do you know that we have adult prevalence rate of 2.8% (2017 est.) for HIV/AIDS that puts Nigeria in the 20th position in the world? Do you know that we are having 3.1 million (2017 est.) of people living with HIV/AIDS in the country that puts Nigeria in 2nd position in the world? Do you know that Nigeria has HIV/AIDS – deaths of 150,000 (2017 est.) which puts Nigeria in the 1st position in the world?
Do you know that Nigeria loses millions of people annually to major infectious diseases such as food or waterborne diseases, vector-borne diseases, water contact diseases, animal contact diseases, respiratory diseases or soil contact diseases? Do you know that adult prevalence rate of obesity is 8.9% (2016) which puts Nigeria in the 145th position in the world? Do you know that we have 31.5% (2016) underweight children under the age of 5 years that puts Nigeria in the 8th position in the world? Do you know that the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).has just released the information that Nigeria recorded 2,598 deaths from road accidents in six months in 2018, a figure higher than the casualties of Boko Haram and Lassa Fever combined within the period? Do you know that we have scores of children dying of starvation in the camps of the Internally Displaced Persons?
Are you aware that the National Health Insurance Scheme (HIS) has been tasked with the overall goal of enhancing access to quality and affordable health care? Do you know that the scheme was first mentioned in Nigeria in 1962, but only came into force in 2005 and it is to commence in this State in May, 2019? Do you know that when the scheme was rolled out in year 2005, the target was to provide universal coverage for all Nigerians by 2015? Do you know that the Scheme has not ensured that every Nigerian has access to good health care services and families still suffer from financial hardship of huge medical bills? We appreciate the Governor for taking the bull by the horn to order that the scheme be commenced.
Do you know that all the operators of the Scheme need to build faith in the people about the Scheme and woo back a number of corporate bodies that once withdrew from the Scheme at the national level? Do you know that the treatment from accredited hospitals should not compromise standard? Do you know that hospitals and healthcare providers under the Scheme should be paid as at when due and be monitored to improve their facilities from time to time from the profits they make? Do you know that our target of the Scheme should envisage to capture as many diseases as possible? Do you know that we have to monitor that subscribers are not given substandard drugs? Do you know that the legal framework should capture more vulnerable people as a form of social protection?
This is the time for our State to learn from the trajectory of the developed countries and follow the examples of successful implementation. It must be noted that the existing national health policy does not guarantee consumer protection. Do you know that the Scheme should educate the subscribers, health providers and the general public on the content of Consumer Protection Act as it affects the Scheme? Do you know that this is the best time to adopt the Act to make our own Consumer Protection Law to guide against any abuse by healthcare providers? Do you know that apart from government funding, contributions from individuals and corporate organisations should be made compulsory as part of their corporate social responsibility to support the Scheme in our State? Do you know that we owe this State a collective duty to command the willingness of all artisans, market men and women to participate in the State Health Insurance Scheme? Do you know that we need the press a lot in the successful implementation of this scheme despite their very tight schedule?
Can they accommodate rigorous campaign for this Scheme as they celebrate this year’s ‘Press Freedom Day to show their disenchantment against insecurity and disinformation threatening their profession? Do you know that they just need to accommodate us despite the fact that they have another theme for the year? What is their theme for the year? The theme for 2019 is: “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation.” Why? Then, come along.
Are you aware that the World Press Day was celebrated on 3rd May, 2019 and the celebration continues? Do you know that we have to join them to mark the day so as to enlist their invincible support to sustain continually the rights of the people to good health and high resolution implementation of the Osun Health Insurance Scheme? Are you aware that the UN General Assembly declared May 3 to be World Press Freedom Day to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined under Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and marking the anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration, a statement of free press principles put together by African newspaper journalists in Windhoek in 1991? .
Are you aware that World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference? Do you know that since then, 3 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day? Are you aware that the celebration affords all pressmen the opportunity to celebrate and assess the fundamental principles of press freedom;; defend the media from attacks on their independence; and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty? The theme for 2019 is: Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation.” The 26th edition of the celebration of the Day was jointly organized by UNESCO, the African Union Commission and the Government of the Republic of Ethiopia. The main event took place in Addis Ababa, on 1 – 3 May at the AU n Headquarters.
Do you know that the contributions of the press to democracy cannot be over-stressed? Do you know that party pluralism gives rise to divergent political views and polarized political discourse that threatens peaceful elections as well as press freedom? Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set by the UN General Assembly in 2015. cuts in:
“When freedom of expression and safety of journalists are protected, the media can play a vital role in preventing conflict and in supporting peaceful democratic processes….States should ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.”
Are you aware that the profession is fast becoming more-dangerous for the men of pen profession? According to the International Federation of Journalists, do you know that in 2018 alone, ninety four journalists were killed in suspicious circumstances? Do you know that the most dangerous countries for journalists for 2018 were Afghanistan with 16 fatalities and Mexico with 11, followed by Yemen with 9, Syria with 8 and India with 7? The words of George Orwell cut in:
“Freedom of the Press, if it means anything at all, means the freedom to criticize and oppose.”
Are you aware that the account of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) showed that 49 journalists were deliberately murdered while 31 journalists were killed while reporting? Do you know that three journalists were reported missing, 60 held hostage and 348 detained in the line of their duties in 2018? Can you now see that journalists are fast becoming an endangered specie? Do you know that the spate of death of journalists did not recognize political system? Thomas Jefferson cuts in:
“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press and that cannot be limited without being lost….Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter?
How do we interprete a situation in the United States, the bastion of democracy, where four journalists employed by the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland were killed on 28th June, 2018, when a man walked in and opened fire on them unprovoked? How do we fix a scenario in October 2017 when Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese journalist noted for exposing government corruption bym politicians and Panama Papers, was murdered untraced,in a place noted to be tourist-destination? Can the world forget in a hurry the gruesome assassination of Ján Kuciakalongside his fiancée, Martina Kusnirova in February 2018 for exposing the link of some businessmen and politicians to the Italian organized crime? Do you remember journalist Khashoggi and how he was dismembered with a sharp axe in the Embassy of Saudi Arabia based in Turkey last year? Do you know that journalism has been part of the evolution of the civilization of man for a long time and that it is too late in the day to distill it from the development constructs of humanity? Do you say how? Come!
Do you know that before the print media came up, words of mouth were the primary source of news? Do you know that the invention of printing press in the 18th century heralded the newspapers, with radio and television in the 20th century, and the Internet in the 21st century? Do you know that the changing roles of journalism in influencing civilization is the major reason why the profession is becoming endangered? Are you aware of what the press was doing before and what it is doing now? Are you aware that the idea of fake news had always been part of the game? Why are authorities frowning? Come along, please.
Do you know that the first newspaper was ‘Acta Diurnaestablished by Julius Caesar, who first ordered the keeping and publishing of the acts of the people by public officers in daily Roman official gazette in 59 B.C? .Are you aware that they were cast on stone or metal containing an officially authorized narrative of noteworthy events in Rome and presented in message boards in public places particularly at the esplanade serving as the Forum of Rome? Do you know that its contents included court news, decrees of the emperor, senate and magistrates, partly private (notices of births, marriages and deaths? Are you aware that in 1556, the government of Venice copied Acta Diurnal as a monthly “Written Notices” to convey political, military, and economic news quickly and efficiently throughout Europe, more specifically Italy, between 1500-1800?
Do you know that the first newspaper in France, the Gazette de France, was established in 1632 by the king’s physician, Theophrastus Renaudot (1586-1653), with the patronage of Louis XIII? Are you aware that at the beginning, all newspapers were subject to pre-publication censorship, and served as instruments of propaganda for the monarchy, manipulating the psyche of the masses to be more servile? Do you know that when newspapers came later in the 19th century in Europe, it was to promote and sustain the existing systems and not to alter them? And then came liberalism which led to private ownership of the media. Authority censorship reduced and relative freedom of the press came with it. Entrepreneurs interest in profit increasingly replaced politicians interest in propaganda. The subscription base became larger as middle class elements joined their stakes in the political and economic discourse. The improvement in printing technology led to mass production leading to a fall in the prices of newspaper. Do you know that as a way to increase readership to make more money to cover the cost of printing and logistics, journalists imported sensationalism into their trade? They began to publish crime report, advertising products and allowed women to contribute to ‘Human Angle’ stories. These experiments made journalism to be economically rewarding but made fake news to thrive. As it was in the beginning, so it is now. Jefferson cuts in:
“No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions….Considering the great importance to the public liberty of the freedom of the press, and the difficulty of submitting it to very precise rules, the laws have thought it less mischievous to give greater scope to its freedom than to the restraint of it.”
Do you know that it is not a waste of time and resources to join all our professional journalists to fight insecurity of journalists and misinformation? Do you know that the evils it creates can affect our all social intervention programmes? Do you know that it includes hoaxes, propaganda and satire? Do you know that it has diverse sources that include oral account, radio, newspapers, television, the Internet and the social media like the Facebook, Amazon, to mention but a few? Do you know that fake news take many forms which may include: deliberate misinformation, false headlines, social media sharing, satire news or comedy news? Do you know that we all need media literacy to be able to evaluate and separate fake news from real news? Do you know that we have to become a savvy judge of news when using social media? Do you know that we have to check information about the creator of the news, the name of the organization hosting the content and the past editions published, the content of the message and verify the information before we share it with others? Do you know that to do this news verification better before sharing it, we may employ the CRAAP test? The test simply evaluates the content for its currency, the timeliness of the information, relevance, the importance of the information to our individual needs, authority—the source of the information, accuracy—the reliability and truthfulness of the information, and purpose—the reason the information exists.
Do you know that fake news is written and published usually with the intent to mislead in order to damage an agency, entity, or person, and/or gain financially or politically, often using sensationalist, dishonest, or outright fabricated headlines to increase readership? Do you know that the relevance of fake news has increased in post-truth politics of this Donald Trump Era? Do you know that the purpose of fake news for media outlets is the ability to attract viewers to their websites to generate online advertising revenues? Do you know that popular social media including the Facebook News Feed, have all been implicated in the spread of fake news, which competes with legitimate news stories? Thomas Jefferson resumes again:
“No government ought to be without censors; and where the press is not free no one ever will.”
Do you know that fake news undermines serious media coverage and makes it more difficult for journalists to cover significant news stories? Do you know that Donald Trump popularized the term “fake news” to describe the criticisms that greeted his less than standard conduct in his presidency after the 2016 Presidential election in the United States? Do you know that in October 2018 the British government decided that it will no longer use the term because it is “a poorly-defined and misleading term that conflates a variety of false information, from genuine error through to foreign interference in democratic processes?” Whatever may be the new definition of fake news, the truth is that it exists and its evil is real. As we are basking in the euphoria of the commencement of Osun Health Insurance Scheme coinciding with the celebration of the World Press Freedom Day, let the press use this period to campaign for the full acceptance of the Scheme by all the people in the State. We appreciate Mr AdegboyegaOyetola,the Governor for this giant dream of a Scheme. We are calling on the media for more support on the Scheme like Ogbuefi Nduna was appealing to Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” saying: “That boy calls you father. Bear no hand in his death.”