Lately, experts around the globe, and especially in Europe, have been actively raising regarding the right of the public to have access to medical treatment and diagnosis information regarding politicians and political cases.
One of the latest triggers to such questions is related to the German Charite Medical Center, which is once again is in the limelight of international attention after on December 17 the popular mayor of Kharkov (Ukraine), Gennady Kernes, passed away at the well-known hospital after a 3 months struggle with Covid-19. Kernes got diagnosed 2 days after he was officially elected the Mayor of Kharkiv by 60,34% of voters.
The politician was expected to recover and get back to his duties, yet his health condition was rapidly getting worse. Not much information has been released to the public, which led to various versions circulating around the media, coming from both Kernes supporters and opponents. Several other cases related to Charite alone, have been causing controversial reactions as consequences of those led to severe consequences affecting high-level elections and geopolitical relations of countries in Europe.
The clinic’s excellent reputation was affected by its repeated involvement in political scandals, that have turned Berlin’s oldest hospital into a kind of an expert center causing major cleavages that increase tensions between those in power and those in the opposition in Eastern Europe. Among the recent cases, that was the high-profile case of Navalny, whom the Charité doctors diagnosed with Novichok poisoning, and in 2013, German doctors provided an equally fatal diagnosis for Ukraine’s ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who was then in prison. However, following her release from jail and a weeklong treatment, Tymoshenko fully recovered. In 2018, experts at Charité announced that Pyotr Verzilov, a Russian opposition activist with quite limited support and recognition rating, was poisoned with an unknown substance.
Earlier, in 2004, doctors at Charité repeatedly changed the diagnosis of Victor Yushchenko, then the frontrunner in the presidential race in Ukraine. Active involvement in political issues and related statements have not only made the clinic’s reputation highly controversial but have also caused conflicts within the medical expert community and created space for rumors and fake news.
The cases of Yushenko, Navalny, Timoshenko, Verzilov, Kernes, and other ones that are actively used in the political and geopolitical arena, make more and more experts and civil activists demand transparency and information disclosure, including medical history, regarding the patients whose health and diagnosis can affect the lives of millions.