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Tuesday's papers: Healthcare options, landlocked salmon, presidential pregnancy

Dailies on Tuesday cover new developments in the nationwide healthcare reform, news of efforts to revitalise a rare species of salmon and first lady Jenni Haukio's surprise pregnancy.

Radiolähettimellä varustettu järvilohi
A critically rare Finnish landlocked salmon, fitted with a radio transmitter for surveillance and study. Image: Aurora Hatanpää

Regional paper Aamulehti starts off this Tuesday's brief review of Finland's dailies with a headline promising the much-touted freedom of choice in the coming social service and healthcare reform ("sote"). Finns will be able to switch the care centre to which they belong every six months once the sweeping system is in place in 2021, a government announcement from Monday declares.

Under the reform health service centres will be centralised according to newly drawn districts instead of municipalities. Inhabitants may either choose a centre of their preference in future or even refrain from choosing one, in which case citizens will be listed as customers of a "public sote-centre" for two years running, writes AL.

At the same time the requirement to corporatise public services will be ditched, a decision in line with the demands laid down in spring by the Constitutional Affairs Committee. Incorporation will remain an option, however, and separate regions will need to establish their own public business companies to handle local services.

"This solution ensures that regions will always have some form of local public service production, safeguarding accessibility," Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Annika Saarikko says in AL.

The new freedom of choice measure looks to stagger the reform's implementation, with customer vouchers and personal care budgets in regional play by 2020. The new healthcare centres themselves will be available the following year, the paper writes, and specialist services will be available one year after that.

Critically endangered fish to be preserved

In nature news, main daily Helsingin Sanomat carries a piece on an ultra-rare species of salmon typical to the lake Saimaa area. The so-called Finnish landlocked salmon (Salmo salar m. sebago) is a variety of the Atlantic salmon that has become specialised as a denizen of lakes instead of sea waters, and it is even more endangered than the Saimaa ringed seal, HS writes.

Without human intervention, the article's ingress reads, the inland fish will surely vanish within a decade, with a power station dam blocking the animal's migration paths since 1971. There are only some 50-70 spawning individuals left in the world; but help is on the way.

"What makes this a unique project is that representatives of both the power station and the preservationist cause will be sitting down to mutual talks," says project leader Niilo Valkonen from the Regional Council of North Karelia. "We intend to get the programme running by the time the ice in Saimaa breaks up in 2019."

An entire artificial spawning facility of sorts will be constructed in the Pielisjoki lake, designed to realistically simulate the authentic conditions that the landlocked salmon needs to procreate.

Mini baby boom

Finally, one item that every single news outlet in Finland is likely to carry on Tuesday is on the surprise pregnancy of Jenni Haukio (40), wife of President Sauli Niinistö (69). The couple announced their joy on Monday to an outpouring of sympathetic responses from their fellow citizens.

Tabloid Ilta-Sanomat goes all in with no fewer than eight pages devoted to the bundle of love, expected in February around the time of the presidential elections. The IS spread features a column criticising the use of the term "election baby", seen by the paper's editor to be offensive in light of the presidential couple's past troubles with conception, about which they have been open.

"Childlessness affects people in every region, of all levels of education and in all social strata," Ulla Appelsin writes, "even the president and his spouse."

Congratulations have rained down upon the child's parents-to-be. The child will be the first born to an incumbent Finnish president's family. K.J. Ståhlberg, the first President of Finland, is the only other head of state with (then school-age) children during his term, IS writes with an accompanying black-and-white photograph of Kaarlo and his wife Ester from the early 20th century.

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