Nel­son Man­dela’s book on his treat­ment stirs dis­pute

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A new book by a for­mer South African mil­i­tary doc­tor that doc­u­ments Nel­son Man­dela’s med­i­cal treat­ments be­fore his 2013 death vi­o­lates doc­tor-pa­tient con­fi­den­tial­ity, ac­cord­ing to some rel­a­tives of the an­ti­a­partheid leader and No­bel lau­re­ate.

But the re­tired doc­tor, Ve­jay Ram­lakan, said in an in­ter­view this week­end on the eNCA news chan­nel that the Man­dela fam­ily had re­quested that the book be writ­ten. While Ram­lakan de­clined to say which fam­ily mem­bers had given per­mis­sion for the book, his re­marks could in­di­cate con­tin­u­ing rifts in a fam­ily whose mem­bers have feuded over the years on is­sues such as in­her­i­tance.

The book, “Man­dela’s Last Years,” cov­ers Man­dela’s health while he was im­pris­oned dur­ing white mi­nor­ity rule, dur­ing his ten­ure as South Africa’s first black pres­i­dent and in re­tire­ment. It also fo­cuses on the dra­matic fi­nal months of Man­dela’s life, when he was suf­fer­ing a lung in­fec­tion and other ail­ments be­fore dy­ing at age 95. “It doc­u­ments the com­plex med­i­cal de­ci­sions; dis­putes be­tween fam­ily mem­bers and staff; mil­i­tary, po­lit­i­cal, fi­nan­cial and se­cu­rity de­mands; con­stant scru­tiny from the press; and the wishes of Man­dela him­self, all of which con­trib­uted to what he and those clos­est to him would ex­pe­ri­ence in his fi­nal days,” ac­cord­ing to Pen­guin Ran­dom House, the pub­lisher. Man­dela’s widow, Graca Machel, said she is con­sid­er­ing le­gal ac­tion and will con­sult with the ex­ecu­tors of Man­dela’s will, South African me­dia re­ported.

“We are deeply dis­ap­pointed that the doc­tor ap­pears to have com­pro­mised him­self and the man whom he had the priv­i­lege to serve,” Nkosi Man­dela, a grand­son of the anti-apartheid leader, said in a state­ment. He said the book might con­tain eth­i­cal vi­o­la­tions. In the eNCA in­ter­view, Ram­lakan said he had per­mis­sion to write the book and that “all par­ties who needed to be con­sulted were con­sulted.” Winnie Madik­ize­laMan­dela, Man­dela’s ex-wife and a prom­i­nent fig­ure in the anti-apartheid move­ment, was with her for­mer hus­band when he died, ac­cord­ing to Ram­lakan, a for­mer sur­geon gen­eral of South Africa who headed Man­dela’s med­i­cal team. “She’s the one who was there when he passed on,” he said. “I think Mrs. Machel was in the house or busy with other is­sues. But I have no idea be­cause I was fo­cus­ing on my pa­tient.”

— AP

JO­HAN­NES­BURG: In this Jan 31, 2006 file photo for­mer South African Pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela smiles dur­ing his meet­ing.

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