Alongside rumours that continue to swirl over the health of Tamil Nadu’s ailing chief minister J Jayalalithaa, the medical bulletins issued by the hospital have themselves become a subject of speculation.
The bulletins released by the Apollo hospital are brief, guarded and hide more than reveal anything on the chief minister.
The last one issued on October 8 read: “The honourable chief minister continues to be under constant monitoring by the intensivists and the consultants in the panel. The respiratory support is closely watched and adjusted. Lungs decongestion treatment is being continued. All the other comprehensive measures including nutrition, supportive therapy and passive physiotherapy are underway”.
The health update shared some details of the treatment, but gave nothing away on the status of the chief minister who has been in hospital since September 22.
Take a look at all the medical bulletins released so far
The lack of information has set tongues wagging, particularly among those in opposition parties. DMK patriarch K Karunanidhi questioned why no leaders visiting the hospital have been allowed to meet the chief minister. “Is the health of the CM an official secret?” asked a DMK activist. An activist had moved the high court seeking a directive to the state government to share information, but the appeal was rejected on the ground the petitioner was seeking publicity.
Chennai-based academic Ramu Manivannan insisted the hospital had reasons to be cautious. “They need to be very careful in what it says as it could be the victim of targeted violence should anything go wrong”.
Known for her fanatical supporters, the hospital seemingly is playing safe. In the initial days, it was more forthcoming. On September 23, it said: “The honourable chief minister of Tamil Nadu was admitted last night for fever and dehydration. Honourable Madam has no fever now and is taking a normal diet. The honourable chief minister is under observation”.
Another bulletin on September 25 stated: “The honourable chief minister had fever and dehydration at the time of admission. Treatment was commenced immediately and by the very next day, i.e, 23.09.16, fever was brought under control. The chief minister resumed regular diet. Honourable chief minister is under observation since then”.
The bulletin also went on to scotch rumours that Jayalalithaa was being taken abroad for treatment. It went on to say that “the honourable chief minister was responding well to treatment and continues to get better”.
Even as late as October 6, another bulletin informed that a team of doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi was helping to treat the chief minister, who “continues to improve and is making gradual progress”.
But thereafter, updates on her health have become scarce. Bulletins over the past week talk more of the treatment, but say little about the person being treated.
The October 10 bulletin, in fact, borrowed lines from an earlier one and read: “The honourable chief minister is being constantly monitored by the intensivists and the other consultants in the expert panel. Necessary respiratory support, antibiotics, nutrition, supportive therapy and passive physiotherapy are being given”. It also talked of an AIIMS expert concurring with doctors on the treatment.
With no clarity on the chief minister’s health, rumours have been flying thick and fast, prompting the police to arrest several people. Some, however, have stepped forward to criticize the clampdown on information. “Secrecy, fear and panic-mongering are the hallmarks of monarchies, autocracies and dictatorships and not that of a democracy which India is supposed to be,” pointed out retired bureaucrat MG Devasahayam. “This is against the very basics of medical and governance ethics,” he told Hindustan Times.