Nollywood Shuns Health Insurance And Their Sick Number Rises | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Nollywood Shuns Health Insurance And Their Sick Number Rises

James uche
Posted: Jul 16, 2016 at 6:39 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Hazeez Balogun – Lagos

It is almost becoming a daily sight to see ailing actors displayed on social media, TV and newspapers – their relatives and friends begging the public for money to treat their illness. It is almost becoming an embarrassment to the industry which boasts to be the second largest in the world.
It is understandable that money may not be flowing like it does in Bollywood and Hollywood, yet there are simple steps the bodies governing film makers in the country can take to avoid the embarrassing situation.
Only this week, another actor was presented to press men by his family and colleagues. Sunday Awoji, the National President of the Filmmakers Welfare Organisation of Nigeria (FWON), says ailing Nollywood actor, Prince James Uche, needs N11 million to undergo kidney transplant abroad.
He said: “Prince James Uche has been very sick and incapacitated for some years now and it has become obvious that he cannot provide the required funds to have the necessary medical attention. He is currently hospitalised in Lagos due to kidney related ailment and urgently needs to be taken to India for a transplant that will gulp N11 million.”
Uche is not the only actor in distress. Another popular face, Romanus Amunta, popularly known as Natty, was also critically down with paralysis in Enugu State. Amunta had been sick for some time and the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) came to his aid two years ago. But as it is, he is even more sickly at the moment than before.
Awoji  also said, “As an NGO within Nollywood that seeks to ensure the wellbeing of filmmakers, especially on health related issues, FWON has decided to intervene. We decided to cry out to Nigerians of goodwill and everyone who loves Nollywood to give towards saving these precious souls.”
Awoji explained that movie producers, actors, fans, other Nigerians of goodwill had donated towards the intervention funds, but the required amount was yet to be realised. “So far, we have only got less than N1 million and we had to quickly send delegates to Lagos and Enugu to take care of their immediate medical needs. We are still hoping and calling on everyone to contribute towards this rescue mission. Uche was a former Vice President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria. He is still struggling with the illness that has kept him off the screen for over eight years now,” he said.
Sadly, there are many others like Uche and Amunta in the movie industry who are also suffering from one sickness or the other. They have little resources to help themselves out and they rely heavily on people’s goodwill.
The solution to this trend was proffered and implemented in 2014 by the current president of the Actors Guild, Ibinabo Fiberesima. She had created a health insurance package for all actors in the guild and with as little as N10,000, each actor will enjoy a health cover that will last for a year. Fiberesima also toured the country going to all the state chapters introducing this scheme to them.
Despite all the effort, less than five percent of the actors in Nigeria took advantage of the opportunity. The N10,000 cannot be a deterrent because it is such a small amount compared to what they get to feature in one film. An actor can feature in over 10 movies in a very slow year.
According to one of the people who put together the Nigerian Entertainment Industry Health Insurance Scheme, (NEIHIS), Seun Apara, he explains that “With all the hard labour and selfless sacrifices that have been put into bringing this scheme to existence, I expect everybody in this industry to have enrolled by now to enjoy the immense benefits. Sadly many have not.”
Entertainment entrepreneur, Efe Omorogbe in a chat says that he had already enrolled to the scheme and did same for his staff members before the launch because he understands the importance of what has just been created. He enjoined the entire entertainment industry to enroll.
Speaking with an actor, Bill Nwakwo, he expressed disappointment in his colleagues who have not registered for the scheme. “The first time I heard about the scheme, I went to register immediately. It makes a lot of senses. How much is N10, 000? My colleagues spend times ten of that in night clubs yet they cannot spend N10,000 for their health. When they now fall sick they will be begging people for money. It is very sad,” he said.