Angela Merkel’s Health: Is a Public Figure Entitled to Privacy?
Can we swallow our curiosities and let world leaders health remain a private issue? Should we?
Hailed as one of the most powerful people in politics and essential to EU politicking in particular, Angela Merkel has been in the news recently for something out of the political domain.
In June and July 2018, the 65-year-old was seen shaking visibly during public meetings. This sparked tremors across Germany and the world as concern soon bled into rumours about her deteriorating health.
At first, Merkel and her team chose not to address the speculations, but amidst rising concerns about her ability to lead, she caved and responded that she was fine, reported the Independent.
“I’m convinced, just as this reaction occurred it will go away again.”Merkel at the G20 Summit in Japan.
But the rumour mill refused to be put out so fast.
Public Figure, Private Concerns
A recent public poll in Germany revealed that most Germans believe Merkel’s health is a personal issue.
Privacy is Germany is sacrosanct, but often the rules are different for politicians who face confident intrusions to their lives almost daily.
Besides, since Merkel is considered one of the most powerful women in world politics, the ripples from her tremors were felt far beyond Germany.
Political commentators from across Europe and other Western democracies in particular, argued that as a public figure, she had a responsibility to disclose more details.
A politicians life is directly tied to the public and so, Merkel’s private health could be seen as a public issue.
The fog surrounding her health has led to wild speculations and a host of misinformation, with doctors writing op-eds on potential causes and cures.
FIT spoke to Dr Manjari Tripathi, a neurologist from AIIMS, to make sense of the medical ethics,
“I cannot comment on Merkel’s case, only the treating physician will know about it and only they can ethically disclose the facts.”Dr Manjari Tripathi
Only Her Own Doctor’s Word Should Be Trusted
Tripathi reiterates that physical issues often do not convey the whole truth. People in general do love to gossip, jump to conclusions and concoct the worst scenario, but without a doctor’s guarantee, these are usually misinformed.
And the only doctor who would know the entire, unvarnished truth is Merkel’s attending doctor.
“Additionally, unless the doctor intervenes and says otherwise, a physical issue does not also always mean a brain issue and physical problems don’t mean she cannot work and should give up and not govern.”Dr Manjari Tripathi
“Only if the cognitive capacities are impaired then the person should not work and take key decisions,” adds Dr Manjari Tripathi.
If she was cognitively impaired, we must trust that her doctors will speak up and they and Merkel will act accordingly and with integrity .
She is the longest-serving consecutive European leader, who has Germany’s top spot for four terms since 2005 and steered her country into becoming a symbol for a united, stable Europe.
The bottom line? If the people she directly governs, the people of Germany, have put their faith in her, so must the rest of the world.
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