The Nepali public seethes with anger whenever VIPs and VVIPs head abroad for medical treatment. Once again, public outrage manifested itself when the President of this federal secular democratic republic, Ram Chandra Paudel, went on a medical trip with an elaborate entourage despite claims from at least a section of the medical fraternity that treatment for his condition was available in the country itself. Lending credence to their version is the fact that facilities meant for VIPs and VVIPs have been gathering dust at Bir Hospital and Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital.
It is natural for the Nepalis, one of the most taxed and worst served peoples in South Asia, to react in such a manner because it is the tax slapped on them under various topics that goes into paying the medical bills of the ‘dignitaries’, of which there seems to be no dearth in this country. This fury makes sense also because the powers that be have started going abroad for medical treatment even in cases where treatment is available at home itself. The laity is aware that medical visits, in most of the cases, are but just a ruse meant to cover ‘important meetings’ in foreign capitals with controversial agendas. What’s more, government authorities almost always keep the ‘ills’ afflicting powerful people like the President under wraps, giving rise to speculations about the real motive behind their medical trips abroad.
This daily has repeatedly brought to light the pitiable plight of the public health delivery system in Nepal with a main focus on government-run hospitals that see thousands of people making a beeline for treatment every day. Its reports have highlighted the problems plaguing these hospitals, such as the lack of medical professionals, lack of budget for infrastructure expansion and poor occupational safety and health standards.
Given such a scenario, time has come for the ruling elite of the republic ‘geared toward’ socialism to focus more on the treatment of an ills-plagued public health delivery system and discourage the VIP and VVIPs’ tendency of seeking medical treatment abroad even for minor ills, for which treatment is available in Nepal.
Leaders of the country, who are so much more in love with ‘socialism’, can even learn from highly efficient functional public health delivery systems in operation in capitalist countries without depleting the country’s foreign currency reserves to send experts on study tours abroad as resources are available online.