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This thesis examines Nigerian Newspaper coverage of rural health care delivery. Using content analysis, the issue of concern was investigated by the researcher. This study was restricted to a one- year period (August 2011-July 2012) with sample size of 468 editions of three national dailies (The Guardian, Daily Sun and Daily Trust). Data obtained were analysed using simple percentages and tables. Summary of the results showed that rural health care delivery issues did not receive considerable attention in the print media; that the press do not allot considerable space to the issues on rural health care delivery; that the dominant story type were straight news report, among other findings. The researcher recommends among others, that the press should be carrying out their watchdog role of reporting the plight of the rural populace, as this will bring that to the notice of the government and consequently call for necessary actions from the government.
1.1 Background of the Study
It is said that health is wealth, and that a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. The health status of a people is so important that if the leader of that nation handles it with moral laxity and non-chalance, doing nothing to improve their health condition, plagues or diseases will ravage such people. Little wonder why health care delivery has become a very vital aspect of any nation, whether developed, developing or underdeveloped.
Health care services have remained the most basic of all essential services, and their significance cannot be over emphasized. However, the general health of a member of any society can be seen as part of an interrelated set of conditions which have to do with man’s capacity to adjust to his immediate environment and to utilize it to optimum advantage. Likewise, health may be considered as the state of complete physical, mental and social well being of an individual, and not merely the absence of diseases or infirmity.
The goal of Primary Health Care (PHC) initiative was to provide accessible health for all by the year 2000 and beyond. Unfortunately, this is yet to be achieved in Nigeria and seem to be unrealistic in the next decade (Abdulraheem, Olapipo and Amodu, 2010). The primary health care aims at providing people of the world with the basic health services. Though primary health care centres were established in both rural and urban areas in Nigeria with the intention of equity and easy access, regrettably, the rural population in Nigeria are seriously underserved when compared with their urban counterparts (Abdulraheem, Olapipo and Amodu, 2010). About two-third of Nigerians resides in rural areas (http//www/fao.orgacountryprofilesindex.asp) therefore they deserve to be served with all the components of primary health care.
Primary health care which is supposed to be the bedrock of the country’s health care policy is currently catering for less than 20% of the potential patients (Gupta, 2004). While most primary health care centers are in state of despair with equipment and infrastructure being either absent or obsolete, the referral system is almost non-existence. The goal of the National Health policy (1987) is to bring about a comprehensive health care system, based on primary health care that is promotive, protective, preventive, restorative and rehabilitative to all citizens within the available resources so that individuals and communities are assured of productivity, social well-being and enjoyment of living. The primary health care services include amongst other things: education concerning prevailing health problems and the methods of preventing and controlling them; promotion of food supply and proper nutrition; maternal and child care, including family planning, immunization against the major infectious diseases; prevention and control of locally endemic and epidemic diseases; and provision of essential drugs and supplies Abdulraheem, Olapipo and Amodu, 2010). The provision of health care at primary health services is largely the responsibility of local government with the support of state ministries of health and within the overall national health policy (Nigeria Constitution, 1999). Private medical practitioners also provide health care at this level.
However, there exist some problem areas in the provision and implementation of primary health care services in the rural areas. These include: insufficient number of trained medical personnel as well as their uneven distribution; insufficient health care centres due to spatial inefficiency of their distribution; inefficiency of the available health care facilities. (Abdulraheem, Olapipo and Amodu, 2010).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Health needs of the rural population requires attention for effective result. However, current health practices that are essential for this attention are mostly available in the urban areas. This always resulted in unequal delivery of health care programmes to rural people. (Abdulraheem, Olapipo and Amodu, 2010).
Government at various times have had to come up with various forms of health policies to deal with the health needs of the people. However, it has been either that concentration on implementation is channeled to the urban cities or when a little is taken to the rural areas, it is not well implemented and therefore make less impact.
It is against this background that this paper set out to analyse the print media coverage of the Rural Health Care Delivery in Nigeria.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is to analyse how often Nigerian press cover rural health care delivery in the country within the year under review and its implications on the rural populace. Other specific objectives include :
1. To ascertain how often Nigerian press cover Rural Health Care Delivery (RHCD) issues.
2. To determine the depth of coverage given to RHCD in the selected newspapers.
3. To find out the dominant positioning of RHCD issues in the Nigerian press.
4. To determine the dominant story type in the selected newspapers.
5. Find out the direction of the coverage.
1.4 Research Question
To guide this investigation, the following research questions will be used:
1. How often do Nigerian press cover issues on rural health care delivery?
2. What is the depth of coverage given to rural health care delivery issues in the selected newspapers?
3. What is the dominant positioning of rural health care delivery issues in the Nigerian press?
4. What is the dominant story type in the selected newspapers?
5. What is the direction of those coverage?
1.5 Significance of the Study
This study will be of importance to ruralites who seems to constitute the highest percentage of a nation’s population. Therefore, positive changes in the implementation of the health policies to improve on the health problems of the rural people will go a long way to increasing their productivity and making life better for them.
The study will also be of importance to public health policy makers in their policy making process and in the designing of the programmes that will address the health needs of the people.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The scope of the study was on the newspaper coverage of rural health care delivery. However, the study was delimited only to these print media (The Guardian, Daily sun, and Daily Trust). The choice of these newspapers was informed by the fact that they represent these parts of the country- South, East, and North. Hence it is to obtain a representative nature of the health care system in the country.
1.7 Definition of Terms
Newspaper Coverage: the reportage by these print media (The Guardian, Daily Sun and Daily Trust), on rural health care delivery.
National Dailies: Those papers that are read all over the country, or at least, at a substantial number of places across the country on the same day of publication.
Rural: Those areas which possess more than one of the following features: shortage or lack of electricity supply, basic infrastructure, bad roads, low per capita income, severe weather conditions, shortage of telephone or telecommunication services, lack of healthcare treatment services and medical specialist which had led to increase in mortality rates of patients suffering from various diseases.
Health Care Delivery: Here, it is used interchangeably with primary healthcare services. It is referred to as those healthcare services that should be given to the rural people or taken to the grass root level.
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