Nelson Mandela is responding to treatment for a recurring lung illness, his second hospital visit this year after a check-up less than three weeks ago.
The nation’s first black leader, 94, was admitted before midnight local time, President Jacob Zuma said today in a statement. Mandela’s health took a “downturn” yesterday and he was transported to the hospital to prevent the infection from spreading, Zuma’s spokesman, Mac Maharaj, said in an interview on Johannesburg-based broadcaster eNCA. Mandela remains under treatment and observation, Maharaj said in a separate statement.
“We appeal to the people of South Africa and the world to pray for our beloved Madiba and his family,” Zuma said, referring to Mandela by his clan name. “We have full confidence in the medical team.”
The Nobel Peace Prize-winner was hospitalized from Dec. 8 to Dec. 26 to treat a lung infection and to have gallstones removed. He contracted tuberculosis while imprisoned on Robben Island during his 27-year incarceration for fighting all-white minority rule. Mandela led South Africa for five years after the African National Congress, or ANC, won the first all-race elections in 1994, ending apartheid rule.
He spent a night in a Pretoria hospital on March 9 for scheduled medical tests.
The ANC called on “all South Africans and the world to keep Nelson Mandela in their prayers,” in a statement. “We are confident that the treatment will be successful.”
In Washington, President Barack Obama said he hoped Mandela will pull through, as he has from previous health threats. “We will be keeping him in our thoughts and prayers,” Obama said at the White House during a meeting with leaders of four sub- Saharan nations.
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