Punch captures emotional moments at the inauguration of a health insurance programme for entertainers in Lagos
At the Nigerian Entertainment Industry Health Insurance Lecture Series, held at the Eko Hotel and Suites in Lagos, on Tuesday, some entertainment practitioners spoke about their most intimate struggles health-wise. One of such revelations came from popular actor and a national leader of the Association of Theatre Arts Practitioners, Prince Jide Kosoko. While commenting on what he described as the nonchalant attitude of actors to healthcare, Kosoko shocked the gathering with a tale about his struggle with diabetes.
He said, “I have been living with diabetes since 1996 and I don’t look ill or take my health for granted. I am very close to my doctors. I keep the relationship sacred because they have really helped me in many ways. I have never fallen ill or had an emergency because I pay special attention to my diet and body.
“Many of these artistes don’t take their health seriously and it is a serious challenge for us. Sometime ago, an insurance company came to institute an insurance cover for the association and because they had dropped a huge amount of money, we simply asked all the members to pay a token of N1,000 each to have access to unlimited healthcare.
But you won’t believe that out of over 12,000 members, less than 800 indicated interest in the scheme and paid the money. Since it was not up to what was invested and required of us, so we had to jettison the idea. The government can also assist by ensuring strict compliance in line with enabling laws.”
On her part, Nollywood actress-turned singer, Jennifer Eloigu, expressed displeasure over what she described as her colleagues’ apathy to healthcare and other ‘serious issues’. She noted that the turnout was poor because it was not all about showing off shoes and bags or popping champagne the turnout is poor.
She said, “It’s unfortunate that artistes are seen as not being interested in serious issues that require intellect. We are not the most hit by the situation or ailment, but because we are in the public domain everything that concerns us is in the open for public scrutiny.
“The next man does not have genuine love or concern for you and you are scared to tell him when you have a headache. If we take insurance as we have been advised to do, artistes can save themselves the embarrassment whenever they need a life line to treat themselves.”
The session – organised in partnership with the National Health Insurance Scheme of the Lagos State Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Medical Association – initially witnessed a large turn-out of Nollywood personalities, including Saidi Balogun, Kene Mkparu, Charles Novia, Kenneth Okolie, Yomi Fabiyi, Aishat Abimbol, Jennifer Eliogu and Bayo Alinko Bankole.
Hosted by comedian Julius Agwu, the evnt also had in attendance some music stars and stand-up comedians, such as Nikki Laoye, Gbenga Adeyinka, DJ Jimmy Jatt, OJB Jezerel, Audu Maikori, Cally Ikpe, Omawumi, Sunday Are, Chris Ubosi, Koffi, Adewale Ayuba, Daddy Showkey, Terry G, Lami Phillips, Tee A and Sheyman.
However, no sooner had the event started than some of the guests began to leave, while others simply resorted to granting interviews on the red carpet while the host, Agwu, begged them to return to the hall.
Some of the subjects discussed at the convention include the health implications of celebrity life styles, benefits of health insurance policies, and the role of government in health insurance policies.
In her remarks, the Managing Director of Avon HMO, Adesimbo Ukiri, said, “In recent times, the Nigerian entertainment sector has lost a number of its members due to health complications. The unfortunate thing is that some of these health complications are treatable. In some cases, the entertainers are forced to appeal to the public for funds to treat themselves. I think the entertainment and health insurance industries should work together to proffer solutions to this problem. Collaboration between the industries will surely put a stop to the needless deaths.”
On his part, the initiator of the project, Seun Apara, said, “Many newspapers and journals have written several degrading stories about our entertainers because of the much undignified and demeaning acts of soliciting funds whenever they are down with critical ailments. This act of begging has actually helped keep most of them alive, as it has culminated into generous donations from fans and government alike.