Saturday, 4 April 2020

Dr. Acacio Gabriel Viegas - the first Indian doctor to discover the 1896 plague of Bombay, British India

Dr. Acacio Gabriel Viega, first reported plague attack in Bombay, 1896 /en.wikipedia.org
Dr. Acacio Gabriel Viega, first reported plague attack in Bombay, 1896 mid-day.com
Acacio Gabriel Viegas (1 April 1856 -1933), a native of Arpora, Goa, West India,  was the first  medical practitioner in Bombay city (Mumbai) to have noticed  symptoms of plague attack near Bombay port in 1896 and soon the first one to have noticed  the outbreak of bubonic plague there.  When the Raj, not knowing the nature of the disease  was quite alarmed when it started spreading fast, those in the medical field were confused by this disease which saw a mass exodus from the city. Besides, it had  badly hit the commence and the flourishing textile industry.
spraying on infected buildings. 1896 thebetterindia.com/

It was his timely discovery and  prompt reporting to the British administration helped save many lives in the city. On Sept. 23 1896, a standing committee reviewed Dr. Viegas' findings on 
the plague cases. On 29 September, Lord Sandhurst, the Governor
 of Bombay, sent a telegram to Lord Elgin, the Governor General 
of India, notifying him of an outbreak of plague in Bombay city.  
Dr Viegas  went down to the roots and  identified the disease as bubonic plague. Later reports  by four independent  teams of  experts  confirmed Dr. Viegas' findings.  
The cases were mostly reported from places close to the Bombay docks and nearby.  Dr Viegas  then launched a massive  campaign to clean up slums  and Chawals  and  recommended extermination of rats, the carriers of the plague (apparently diseased rats came from Hong Kong visa the Opium Ships).  To fight the epidemic hard, he embarked on the mammoth task of  carrying out inoculation of 18,000 residents - effective precautionary efforts  taken on a war-footing.  Identifying rats as carriers helped combat the spread as well. 
A graduate of Grant Medical College and passed his LMS examination in first class, Dr. Acacio Gabriel Viegas was the
first Indian Christian to be elected to the Municipal Corporation of Bombay in 1888.
Dr. Accacio Gabriel Viegas, Mumbai,getsetandgo.wordpress.com
Citation-Dr. Gabriel Viegas, Mumbai, Maharashtra getsetandgo.wordpress.com
There is a   free-standing statue in front of Framjee Cowasjee Institute and it was built as a tribute by the citizens of Bombay in 1936 for timely saving people in thousands. Dr. Viegas was a resident of Cavel for a while and the main street there is still named after him.
Dr. Viegas Street, Cavel, Mumbai, Maharashtragetsetandgo.wordpress.com
Hailing from Goa (Arpora), Acacio Viegas  completed his matriculation in 1874  with a distinction. He then joined the Grant Medical College, securing a First Class in the L.M. & S. degree examination held in 1880. Viegas then set up practice at Mandvi in the south Bombay which is close to the busy Bombay harbor.  Being a man of affable nature, he had wide contact with all kinds of people and this encouraged him  to make contribution to the social and civil problems of Bombay. Between 1888 and 1907 he successfully contested the  civic elections. His dedicated services to the public saw him becoming the President of  the Bombay Municipal Corporation in 1906. During his tenure, being an active committee member, Dr. Viegas   paid more attention to improving the living conditions of the city's poor and down-trodden. He reduced the  public utility costs and at the same time promoted medical relief and introduced compulsory free education.

Apart, in the area of education, as  a member of the Bombay University Syndicate, and a  pioneer of the Faculty of Scientific Technology, he encouraged women to enter colleges and, in this regard, he supported the creation of special colleges for women. He  also served as a Medical Examiner  at the degree level and was Foundation-Fellow of the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

 After his death in 1933, a life-size statue of him was erected in the Cowasji Jehangir Hall across  Metro Cinema as part of his birth centenary celebration in 1956, by the then  Governor of Bombay Presidency, Harekrushna Mahtab. A great  tribute to his  medical  services in the city in the crucial time. A street in the Dhobitalao area carries his name as a token of gratitude by the people whose  forefathers he saved from the dangerous claws of death in 1896. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acacio_Gabriel_Viega https://getsetandgo.wordpress.com/2020/01/24/the-bombay-balchao-walk-with-author-jane-borges-and-swapbook-in-mumbai/