The representatives of USAID and Health Finance and Governance Project, Nigeria have sought the support of the Cross Rivers State Ministry of Information and Orientation to create massive awareness on the forthcoming Health Insurance Scheme through various media outfits in the State.
The Cross River State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mrs. Rosemary Archibong, who spoke with the visiting team to the State appreciated the encomiums poured on the ministry and commended the Health Finance and Governance team for their commitment towards the proposed take-off of the Cross River State Health Insurance Scheme.
She thanked the team for the effective and laudable partnership with the ministry in projecting the outstanding vision of Prof. Ben Ayade, Governor of Cross River State whose visions are so large, citing an instance on a recent event in Nassarawa State where Cross River stood amongst the best three states in the federation that were applauded for their effort in universal health coverage.
The commissioner informed the visitors that the governor had some projects running and ongoing like the largest Floor Garment Factory consisting of a huge number of female employees; the solar farm from where energy will be distributed to the populace; among others.
Barrister Archibong also added that the Canadian Government had come to partner with the state to establish a Canadian School in Obudu, pointing out that the present Cross River State Health Insurance Scheme popularly called AyadeCare is to render free access to the least citizen as well as those in the rural areas who cannot afford quality healthcare.
She maintained that the HIS which had been passed into law by the State House of Assembly would hopefully get to the implementation stage to ensure that Cross Riverians and all residents have access to quality and affordable healthcare.
Commenting, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Orientation, Mr. Aye Henshaw II, informed that a media training had been carried out for members of the press, stating that major news outfits in the state are under the supervision of the Ministry and this would be capitalized on to create awareness on AyadeCare.
According to him, messages are designed for jingles and flyers which will be translated into different local languages in the state while also interfacing through the social media platform to ensure that there is adequate media coverage that will create the necessary awareness.
Senior Analyst, Technical Project Officer Leah Taub, offered her support to the development of the advocacy strategy and also help to increase Health insurance in most community members as well as advocate for quality healthcare for Nigerians. Miss Taub commended the Commissioner, Permanent Secretary and Management Staff of the Ministry for the team spirit and passion towards the forthcoming scheme.
The Knowledge Management and Communication Officer, Mr. Somto Mbelu stated that the role of the media in disseminating information towards creating awareness for the project cannot be left out as communication is key to the success of the program which is why the team thought it wise to work with the Ministry of Information and Orientation in order to get the media and communication advocacy strategy on point in view of when the scheme proposed to give quality and affordable healthcare to everyone including those in the rural and remote areas of the State would commence.
Consequently, the Ministry of Information and Orientation guided the USAID, Health Finance and Governance Project Nigeria team on advocacy visit to major media outfit in the State to create awareness for the forthcoming health scheme that would enable all to have access to quality healthcare.
Speaking during the visit to HIT FM Calabar, the General Manager, Mr. Patrick Ugbe stated that there are various programs running on HIT FM and that for the team to achieve their objective of creating awareness, they must pick the program that is more suitable, pointing out that people often feel that Government schemes are ways government extort money from people.
He emphasized that the team is embarking on creating awareness to wade off the mistrust that people have when Government schemes are mentioned is in course, adding that if the team believes in the spirit of advocacy and media to get to their core target, then HIT FM is positioned to do that, informing that once audience know that something is for their good, they will buy into the idea.
In the same vein, the acting General Manager Canaan City Radio (FRCN) Calabar, Mr. Effiom Archibong informed the visiting team that although a training had been conducted for Journalists in the State by the Ministry of Information and Orientation in partnership with Health Finance and Governance to create awareness of the scheme, future training of such magnitude should include broadcasters and programmers as well, noting that the scheme is important and should be keyed into by everyone since no one can envisage when to fall ill.
NTA General Manager, Mr. Peter Ngbeken, applauded the scheme, stating that he is a beneficiary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and that NTA has different avenues to showcase various program be it local, national or international as the air wave is open, noting that other States in Nigeria ought to be aware of what is going on in Cross River State and expressed his readiness to work with the healthcare team.
The General Manager, Cross River Broadcasting Corporation (CRBC), Dr. (Mrs.) Teresa Essien stated that CRBC has been publicizing Ayade Care right from inception to the floor of the House of Assembly, adding that the scheme is critical because health issues associated with poverty is very challenging.
She explained that people do not tend to fall ill but illness will still come up and there will be the challenge of people trying to get money to pay hospital bills, maintaining that Ayade Care is what many Cross Riverians are hopeful will solve their health challenges to a great extent and promised that the Health Scheme would be aired on Thursday’s segments in the station.
Also speaking the General Manager, Cross River State Newspaper Corporation, Mr. Emma Akpong stated that the team has made no mistake by coming to the Newspaper Corporation with their message, adding that as a State Government outfit, it is their mandate to get information across the State and beyond.
He assured that the Newspaper corporation would do its best to ensure that Cross Riverians are properly enlightened on what the team is doing because as she puts it, publicity remains the integral part of any development project.
Friday Nwagbara, Calabar