Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli returned to Baluwatar Thursday evening “fit and fine” after undergoing treatment at Tokha-based Grande Hospital for two days. Oli underwent hemodialysis twice in this period. Emerging from the hospital, PM Oli said in a reassuring tone that he is all right. But during the two days when the PM was undergoing treatment larger public concern, including that of the media, was about PM’s office not informing the general public about the nature of ailment and the treatment he was administered. People were nearly kept in the dark about the health status of the head of the government. “What happened to the prime minister? Is the illness serious? Why does not the government update the people with regular health status?” People asked in the social media. Part of such response was triggered by rather conflicting and confusing statements coming from advisors of the prime minister. Earlier it was said that PM was in the hospital for a “regular check up.” PM’s press advisor would say the PM is all right and he would return home soon after, then the hospital administration would inform otherwise. It is good that PM has regained his health and reportedly has no problem in governing. We hope the PM will recover early and will be able to get back to work actively.
But the government has not been properly communicating about PM’s health with people. The government ministers tend to behave as if PM’s health is the concern only of the cabinet members and the party leaders and it is none of general people’s business. This kind of attitude had reflected during his health treatment in Singapore in September. While in Kathmandu, people waited for the news of health status of the PM, no official information was disseminated about his actual health status. That was not right.
Office of the prime minister should realize that PM’s health is a public concern. When the PM falls ill it has wider repercussion in overall functioning of the government. It is for this reason, perhaps, that in other countries when the PM or president is hospitalized, regular bulletin regarding their health is released. We wonder why the advisors of the PM, probably including PM himself, do not feel comfortable in sharing the health status of the PM. Political differences aside, it is the part of Nepali culture to express concern when someone close falls ill and is hospitalized. This is the reason why when top leaders fall ill and are hospitalized leaders and individuals from various sectors flock to the hospital to take stock of the situation and to wish for early recovery. This time as well, opposition leaders were seen to wish for PM’s wellbeing in Twitter. Thus to hide or withhold the information about PM’s health is to be too rude to the concerned people. Prime Minister’s office, his aides and advisors need to understand that people care when the government head falls ill. Thus it is the duty of the government to regularly share information about PM’s health when he falls ill. Why hide information when people care about the health of their prime minister?