Instead of relying on foreign healthcare systems, politicians should redirect their efforts toward modernizing and improving the quality of Nepal’s health institutions. Increased budget allocation, along with the integration of modern technology, is crucial to enhancing healthcare services and making them more comprehensive.
Nepal has made remarkable strides in healthcare services over the past 15 years. Doctors claim that nearly all treatments, except for rare diseases requiring cutting-edge technologies, are available within the country. However, there persists a troubling trend among the country’s top politicians who prefer to seek medical treatment abroad, even for common health issues. This practice, often funded by taxpayers’ money, must be discouraged, and the government should prioritize investing in developing medical facilities within Nepal itself.
Medical professionals in both government and private hospitals in Nepal assert their ability to provide treatment for even the most complex conditions. The National Academy of Medical Sciences (NAMS) has a designated arrangement for treating VVIPs and VIPs, ensuring quality care. There are growing calls within the country that political leaders should only seek treatment abroad for exceptionally complex diseases that cannot be addressed within Nepal. However, some leaders choose to go abroad for personal reasons or due to their own preferences, despite the availability of appropriate medical care domestically. This is primarily driven by financial access, as those with higher social status and greater financial means tend to opt for medical tourism. However, financial capacity alone should not dictate the choice of seeking treatment abroad. It is crucial to build trust in domestic healthcare facilities and ensure equitable access to quality medical services for all citizens, regardless of their socioeconomic status.
Although Nepal has made significant progress in healthcare, some leaders still possess a mindset that prompts them to seek treatment abroad even for minor illnesses that can be effectively managed within the country. Notably, former Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli underwent a kidney transplant for a second time at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, and CPN (Unified Socialist) Party Chairman Madhav Kumar Nepal received treatment for pneumonia at the same hospital. These cases highlight that leaders only need to go abroad when specifically recommended by doctors for complex or uncommon diseases. However, there is an urgent need to address the lack of trust among politicians in Nepal’s healthcare system. Despite the presence of skilled medical professionals, the country struggles with a shortage of quality infrastructure and adequate medical equipment. This inadequacy compels politicians to seek treatment abroad. It is essential to emphasize that while Nepal has competent doctors, hospitals may lack certain equipment and quick medical services. This disparity underscores the pressing need for the government to invest in enhancing the quality and reliability of healthcare services.
The act of politicians seeking medical treatment abroad not only erodes trust in the country’s health institutions but also leads to a drain of national resources. Moreover, the burden of medical expenses on the state coffers further incentivizes this trend. Instead of relying on foreign healthcare systems, politicians should redirect their efforts toward modernizing and improving the quality of Nepal’s health institutions. Increased budget allocation, along with the integration of modern technology, is crucial to enhancing healthcare services and making them more comprehensive. Neighboring countries like India and Bangladesh have effectively developed their healthcare systems, treating thousands of patients daily and preventing the outflow of resources by recalling doctors who had left their countries. Nepal must take inspiration from these examples and focus on strengthening its domestic healthcare infrastructure.
By investing in emergency services, necessary manpower, and adequate facilities, the country can instill confidence in its healthcare system and discourage the trend of seeking treatment abroad. Leaders can lead by example. We strongly urge all politicians to end the practice of seeking medical treatment abroad, even when viable options exist within Nepal. The government should prioritize investments in developing domestic healthcare facilities to ensure comprehensive, reliable, and accessible medical services for all citizens. By addressing the shortcomings in infrastructure, equipment, and services, Nepal can build trust in its healthcare system and discourage medical tourism, thereby preserving valuable resources and promoting the well-being of its people.