Searching for Sitala Mata

Searching for Sitala Mata : Eradicating Smallpox in India

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In 1975, Cornelia E. Davis, MD, MPH, was a pioneering African American woman doctor fresh out of residency training. Davis felt an overwhelming gratitude for her life's opportunities, and sought a way to give back. Her bold choice would benefit millions of lives.

The World Health Organization hired Davis to work in its landmark smallpox eradication program. Davis traveled to India, where she scoured the countryside for the last remnants of the brutal, deadly disease. Connie didn't allow entrenched sexism, or caste taboos to deter her from her fascinating mission. She tracked smallpox through the Thar desert on camelback and across volatile Indo-Bangladeshi borders. She negotiated with smugglers and fakirs. She met Mother Theresa. She climbed to the base camp of Mount Everest. Finally, her symbolic search for Sitala Mata, the Hindu smallpox goddess, came to a positive conclusion. An international certification team declared smallpox eradicated in India.

To this day, smallpox is the only disease that's been completely wiped out. Davis played a role in stopping a pestilence that's dogged humanity for thousands of years. Searching for Sitala Mata is the story of how one brave woman's simple desire to pay it forward had historic and positive ramifications worldwide.
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Product details

  • Paperback
  • 140 x 216 x 19mm | 431g
  • English
  • Illustrations, black and white
  • 0692341137
  • 9780692341131
  • 2,518,661

About Cornelia E Davis MD Mph

Dr. Cornelia E. Davis, MD, MPH, was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, and she graduated from Gonzaga University. In 1968, she was one of the first black women admitted to the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. After finishing her pediatric residency at the USC Los Angeles County teaching hospital, gratitude for her life's many opportunities led her to seek out humanitarian work. The World Health Organization hired her for their smallpox eradication program in India.

Davis returned to the United States in 1977 and earned a master of public health degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. She's worked for the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and has battled disease outbreaks on the ground in Cambodian and Ethiopian refugee camps. Davis went on to do international development work in twenty countries in Africa and Asia.

Davis has one daughter adopted in Ethiopia during the civil war. Now semiretired, she lives on Lake Chapala, near Guadalajara, Mexico.
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Rating details

28 ratings
4.5 out of 5 stars
5 64% (18)
4 21% (6)
3 14% (4)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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