My Friend… Dominic

1 Response

  1. Dr Ishwar Gilada says:

    News of Dominic D’sousa jailed in Goa, on being HIV positive was brought to our notice by his friends Isabel Vaz and Anesia Colaso. Within moments, Indian Health Organisation (IHO) (now renamed as Peoples Health Organisation -PHO), got into action, organised a press meet in Mumbai and education session for lawyers. We fought tooth-n-nail through rallies in Dominic’s village Parra near Mapusa and Panjim; Press Conference in Panjim; personal meetings with legislatures that culminated in addressing Goa State Assembly with the help its Speaker Mr. Dayanand Narvekar and lastly filing a writ petition through Dominic’s mother Lucy – a retired nurse (those days it was not named PIL) – all within 3 days. To demonstrate that HIV is not transmitted through casual contact, Ram Ashar and I had stayed at Dominic’s home. We were and we still are thankful to the Mumbai Lawyer Anand Grover for taking up the case free, though we did fund his air fare and stay at Hotel Mandovi from our meagre resources. To acquaint him and Indira Jaising with HIV related issues, we had organised a training session with slides in his Mumbai. After 64-day isolation Dominic was released from Mapusa TB Sanatorium. Later, the Goa Public Health act 1987 was repealed where the isolation of HIV infected person was made optional from mandatory.
    Later in January 1992, with the initiatives of Dominic IHO(PHO) started self-help group ‘Positive People’ that was transformed into NGO. Dominic became ill and was shifted by PHO from Goa. He died of PCP Pneumonia at Breach Candy Hospital and PHO settled the Breach Candy bill of Rs.78,000 through. Thanks to the renowned physician Dr Farokh Udwadia who didn’t charge.
    According to his last wish in the presence of his mother, girlfriend and other Goa friends, he wanted the us to cremate his body as per Hindu rites if his death came about in Mumbai, as he was cared for during his last days by- Drs Ishwar Gilada, G.V. Bhimani, Dr.R.G. Gangakhedkar and Mr.Ram Ashar- all from the Hindu community. Accordingly, cremation was done at the Chandanwadi Crematorium, Mumbai in the presence of his family members, friends, Max Mueller Bhavan staff and NGO representatives. Everyone mourned his loss.
    In the aftermath we had seen several individuals and NGOs piggybacking on Dominic legacy to further their own interests, often even starting and ending their public speeches, press releases and articles with Dominic’s quotes and making the crowd believe or think that Dominic was indeed released from the isolation because of their efforts. Some have started organisations, collected huge funds, made documentaries, films. However, one good thing has come out is a sustained fight against discrimination and human rights violations, culminating into the recent passage of the AIDS Bill in the parliament.
    Fortunately, history remains un-changed, though science is volatile. The role of PHO can’t be undermined or forgotten, despite some such efforts.
    Dr.Ishwar Gilada,Secretary-PHO

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