The health of the prime minister is a topic that affects everyone in the countryThe public has a right to know about KP Sharma Oli's condition.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is ill again. A renal-transplant patient, the risks of Oli having issues with his kidneys have always been prevalent. Oli is at Grande International Hospital for a few days to complete a series of dialyses. And while the health of the prime minister is a topic that affects everyone in the country, Oli and his advisers have remained surprisingly quiet about the entire episode. This is not the first time the status of Oli’s health, always fluctuating due to his nephrological issues and willingness to push through with work, has been left opaque—with the public and the media having to glean information from unofficial or anonymous sources. Given the apparent severity of his current problems, and how it could impact the day-to-day governance of the country, Oli and his team need to clearly address all questions regarding his health and release timely updates. The people have a right to know.
When a head of government or high-ranking executive faces any health issues, it is bound to attract the attention of the people. While every person should be accorded some level of privacy, repeated health-related incidents bring forth questions about whether someone is fit enough to continue in a role. This is a routine occurrence. When German Chancellor Angela Merkel was seen shaking uncontrollably for the third time in a few months this past July, the incidents became international news. And while Merkel was accorded some privacy in dealing with the issue the first time it happened, German newspaper Bild in its editorial was right to point out that Merkel’s health was ‘a political issue’.
In Oli’s case, it is a well-known fact he had a kidney transplant 12 years ago. All transplant patients have the risk of the body eventually rejecting the donated organ, so they have to purposely become immunocompromised. This leads to a greater risk of being ill. On top of that, the prime minister has been known to push his body to the limit in completing his duties, ignoring his doctors’ orders. While this trait could be commended to some extent, with Oli’s penchant for consolidating power—his moves towards strengthening the Prime Minister’s Office and imposing his will on the Cabinet are well known—any serious dips in health can seriously jeopardise the government’s functioning.
The last time Oli’s medical condition was clearly outlined and released to the public was when he was admitted to Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital on October 29, 2018, with the hospital releasing regular health bulletins. Since then, he has not only gotten sick a few times, but has also been taken to Singapore twice, the second time for plasmapheresis. Yet, the prime minister and his advisers have attempted to stifle any information. Oli even failed to pass on responsibility to the deputy prime minister while in Singapore, attempting to hold a teleconference instead. Even on Wednesday, as Oli was taken into Grande because he could not urinate, no news was forthcoming from Oli’s advisers. The hospital released a general initial statement, confirming Oli's being admitted, but also saying that he was in good health and he might be released ‘by tonight or [Thursday].’
The hospital, and the government, should have given clear and precise statements about KP Oli’s health condition. As things stand, there is no clarity on what to expect, or how long the prime minister will actually be hospitalised. Whatever may be the case, the opacity from Oli’s team is not a good sign. The prime minister’s condition must officially be addressed in a transparent manner.
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