Chirac health bulletins not credible: French doctor

7th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 6 (AFP) - Bulletins about French President Jacques Chirac's health are not proper medical reports but political spin concocted by his advisers, a senior member of France's Order of Medical Practitioners said in an interview to be published Wednesday.

PARIS, Sept 6 (AFP) - Bulletins about French President Jacques Chirac's health are not proper medical reports but political spin concocted by his advisers, a senior member of France's Order of Medical Practitioners said in an interview to be published Wednesday.

Since Chirac, 72, was taken to the Val de Grâce military hospital on Friday suffering from a vision disorder linked to a "minor vascular incident", reports about his condition have been consistently reassuring.

Jacques Roland, the head of the medical body's ruling council, told the daily La Croix that the so-called medical bulletins were nothing of the sort.

"For me, these statements, presented as though they were medical, are texts put together by the president, those close to him and his political advisers," he said. "We are no longer in the area of medical communication, but in that of political spin."

Roland said the bulletins were drawn up by Chirac's advisers and later, in an attempt to make them look authentic, read out by a doctor.

Under French law, doctors are forbidden to reveal medical information without the permission of the patient or immediate family members.

'But Roland said citizens also had the right to be informed about the health of their national leaders.

Chirac himself promised he would be transparent about any health problems to avoid a repeat of the controversy that erupted over revelations that former president François Mitterrand concealed the onset of prostate cancer from the public for several years.

The bulletins about Chirac's condition have been described by medical experts as laconic and vague, and have reopened a debate in France about the need for transparent information about political leaders.

But the president's supporters rejected suggestions his true condition was being deliberately kept secret, saying speculation about his political future was premature.

The question of medical secrecy was an issue last year during the final illness of Palestinian president Yasser Arafat, when French health officials refused to release any details of his condition, saying that they could give information only to Arafat's immediate family.

In the information vacuum, rumors flew that Arafat had been poisoned.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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