Kishore Deerpalsing, like most politicians, proved to be, in most people’s eyes, a controversial figure. News of his death reminds me of two specific decisions he made as Minister of Health for which Mauritius has reasons to feel grateful. It was at a reception in honour of Egyptian surgeons organized by Mauritian doctors where I shared the same table with Kishore and his PS.
The two top brasses were discussing serving basmati rice to hospital patients, and after some mathematical gymnastics, happily cried victory. That was the first decision. Kishore had joined the party after some cocktail drinks in another function and the effect of the whisky was showing. Dr. Yearoo, the Master of ceremony, invited me to take the floor, and I blasted the Ministry of Health for the silence on my request to invite a vascular surgery team from London Guys hospital willing to offer their services free in our hospitals. The doctors, knowing the chief guest’s fiery character, looked at me in bewilderment.
How could I dare provoke their Minister? I was prepared for anything as I was not a member of the staff in the MOH. To the great surprise of the audience, Kishore, in a sober response, praised me for taking interest in the welfare of the country and promised me that the British doctors would receive their invitation to Mauritius.
The ball was set rolling the following morning at 9 a.m. and two weeks later, a team of British surgeons operated on 8 patients who were inoperable in Mauritius. And that was the second decision. Comparing my later requests to bring in American, French and Malaysian doctors volunteering their services here and the silence of the successors of Kishore, I believe that this five-footer showed himself to be a giant. I will ask those in bereavement with his departure to accept my heartfelt condolences.