Dr. Cornelia E. Davis MD has worked for more than thirty five years in International Public Health on various infectious diseases in twenty African and Asian countries. Her first book Searching for Sitala Mata, Eradication of Smallpox in India recounts her two years working in a program considered to be one of the great medical achievements of the past century.
For centuries, smallpox cast such a deadly shadow that Hindu peoples prayed to Sitala Mata, the smallpox goddess, for protection. Fortunately, smallpox today is a brutal memory.Cornelia E. Davis MD, MPH, played a small yet decisive role in the World Health Organization’s eradication of the disease.
In 1975, full of gratitude for her life’s opportunities, Davis journeyed to India to hunt down smallpox. As a black American woman, she faced discrimination and skepticism; but Davis didn’t let anyone stand in her way. Smugglers, fakirs, border security agents, and stubborn camels eventually bent to her will. She even nearly killed a sacred cow and lived to tell the tale.
Her tenacity paid off in smallpox’s disappearance from the Indian subcontinent, one of the disease’s last strongholds. Searching for Sitala Mata not only tells the story of her adventures; this fascinating memoir proves that one person can make historic differences.