Spot the needy!

Left, wealthy Nepali Congress leader Sujata Koirala and right, a child in Nepal’s Kalikot district who reminds the world of a familiar press photo from Africa.

15November2016: It took five million rupees for Office of the Prime Minister of Nepal to realise that over three hundred children are currently suffering from serious malnutrition in a mountainous district of the South Asian nation.

The sudden interest in the wellbeing of ordinary people comes after Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda released Rs 5 million to Nepali Congress leader Sujata Koirala. The daughter of former prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala is reported to be suffering from breast cancer. Although owner of immense wealth, political leaders did everything they could to ensure that she received the money – purportedly to undergo medical treatment in foreign countries.

Some are posting witty comments on social media to say people should thank her that she took only Rs 5 million. The original demand was for Rs 10 million.

The illegal doling out of the fund has become a national debate in Nepal where the poor and ordinary who often do not have access to even the most ordinary medicines, paracetamol for example. But the political leaders help themselves from the national coffer every year, costing the impoverished nation hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.

The made several attempts to reach Health Minister Gagan Thapa who has repeatedly indicated through social media that Prime Minister Prachanda played hide and seek with him in order to release the money at his absence. PM Prachanda, he claimed, remained absent from two cabinet meetings that were called to pass a regulation that would have barred him from releasing the money to Ms Koirala. But the Maoist Centre boss apparently stayed off from those meetings so that the regulation was not passed on time. And then when Mr Thapa was in Pokhara attending the general convention of Tarun Dal, a sister wing of the oldest political party in the country, PM Prachanda saw to it that the “medical fund” was released for the Nepali Congress leader, it is understood.

According to correspondent in Kathmandu, the government has directed its health ministry to immediately prepare “a proposal” to see what the government can do to address the dire situation in regard to those 333 malnourished children in Kalikot district.

A programme launched months earlier to combat malnutrition in the district has discovered that hundreds of children aged between six months and five years of age are suffering from severe malnutrition.

Ironically, the 333 children will someday be grateful to Ms Koirala because without her the government would not have been under the pressure to “direct” health minister Gagan Thapa’s office.

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