No need to panic over Mandela’s health, says government

Friday, January 28, 2011

PRETORIA - The South African government has tried to allay people’s fears about former president Nelson Mandela’s health, saying medically there is no need to panic.

Acting South African President Kgalema Motlanthe issued a statement late Thursday night, confirming that the speculation around Mandela’s health was untrue and that he was in high spirits.

“We wish to confirm that Dr Mandela is in Milpark Hospital undergoing a few specialised tests and investigations. Given the medical history of our former president, his health over the last few years and his age, these tests are necessary in order to provide optimal health care,” BuaNews reported Motlanthe as assuring.

Motlanthe’s comments come as Nelson Mandela, popularly called Madiba, spends his third day at the hospital after being admitted for routine tests.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation, which issued a statement Wednesday afternoon confirming that he has been admitted to the hospital, had not issued any further comment Thursday. This led to speculation that his health had seriously deteriorated.

On Thursday high-profile, senior government officials, politicians and family members were seen going in and out of the hospital.

According to some media reports, the 92-year-old has been seen by a specialist pulmonologist, who treats respiratory systems.

Mandela’s respiratory problems date back to when he was in the impregnable Robben Island prison, seven km off Capetown city, where he suffered from tuberculosis.

“Mandela suffers from ailment common to people of his age, and conditions that have developed over the years. We may recall that he has suffered from tuberculosis whilst on Robben Island and has had previous respiratory infections,” said Motlanthe.

Together with Mandela’s doctor and family, Motlanthe will give a media briefing at 12:30 Friday, where he is expected to update the country on Mandela’s health.

The defence force is responsible for all medical requirements and care of current and retired presidents. Motlanthe said that he has tasked the defence force to ensure that all necessary support is provided to the former president and his family.

“I can assure all South Africans and the world that Madiba is in good hands,” said Motlanthe.

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