The last medical bulletin from Apollo Hospital was on October 21.

Forty days on secrecy shrouds Jayalalithaas hospitalisation
news Public Interest Monday, October 31, 2016 - 15:50

It has been forty days since Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has been admitted to the Apollo Hospital in Chennai.  With a handful of bulletins released by the hospital, information surrounding the health of the 68-year-old leader remains tight. The last medical bulletin, released on October 21, by the private hospital stated that the Chief Minister is “interacting” and “progressing gradually”.  The release also stated that she continues to be under treatment and observation for all vital parameters, respiratory support and passive physiotherapy.

Sources close to the CM and from Apollo Hospital have told The News Minute that Jayalalithaa has been off ventilator for nearly two weeks and no longer requires oxygen support.  While this information would come as relief for thousands of her supporters and for the public, it is anybody's guess why the state government and the hospital have chosen to stay silent on her health for over 10 days.   

“Even after 40 days, the health condition of the Chief Minister is not known. There is still only speculation and guess work and it doesn’t augur well for the running of the state,” observed DMK spokesperson A Saravanan. Alleging that decisions opposed by Jayalalithaa were now being taken by the state government, he said, “We don’t know if it is being taken in the knowledge of the CM. We only hope she recovers soon and puts a full stop to all that is happening.”

Jayalalithaa’s medical team

The News Minute has accessed the list of doctors treating Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. While consultant intensivist Richard Beale from the London Bridge Hospital has been attending to the ailing leader for several weeks now, the medical team at Apollo Hospital has been providing round-the-clock treatment to Jayalalithaa since September 22. Providing primary care to the Chief Minister, the intensive team includes Dr Babu Abraham, respiratory medicine specialist, Dr R Senthilkumar, critical care expert and Dr Ramesh Venkataraman, critical care medicine.

The three doctors are being supported by consultants from Critical Care Group. They are Dr YVC Reddy, senior cardiologist, Dr R Narasimhan, senior respiratory physician, Dr Ramasubramaniam, senior consultant, infectious diseases, Dr Ram Gopalakrishnan, senior consultant, infectious diseases and Dr Jayashree Gopal, Endocrinologist & Diebetologist.

Meanwhile, nutrition and essential nutrient intake support is being managed by the dietary team with inputs from Dr Rajeev Annigeri, nephrologist. 

Political bickering

On Sunday, DMK President M Karunanidhi compared his political rival’s hospitalisation to his at the Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Hospital in 2009, when he was Chief Minister. In a press statement, the 92-year-old leader stated that the then DMK government had announced that he would be undergoing a spine surgery and had gone to the extent of providing the names of the doctors performing the surgery. Taking a dig at the ruling AIADMK for not providing updates on Jayalalithaa’s health, Karunanidhi stated that the first announcement about his hospitalisation came from his government, rather than the hospital.

Hitting out at the DMK patriarch for politicising the CM’s health, AIADMK spokesperson CR Saraswathi wondered if Karunandhi, who has been advised rest following a drug allergy last week, can provide “real information” on his health. She also demanded photographs of the DMK leader’s treatment, just as he had demanded photographic proof of Jayalalithaa’s hospitalisation.  Dismissing the DMK’s statement, Saraswathi said that Apollo Hospital was providing a clear picture of the Jayalalithaa’s health and added that she is “perfectly fine”.

While the war of words between the Dravidian parties continue, writer and political commentator Gnani Sankaran said, “There needs to be a balance between privacy of individual and the need for the public to know. One can’t compromise one for the other.” Arguing that the public’s right to know has to be respected, he said it was the duty of the state government to release regular statements, noting that medical bulletins, however, can be released by the hospital.

Jayalalithaa was admitted to the Apollo Hospital on September 22 after complaints of "fever and dehydration." 

(This piece has been updated)

Show us some love and support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.