Searching for Sitala Mata, Eradication of Smallpox in India

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In 1975, a female African American doctor journeys to rural India to help stamp out the last vestiges of smallpox on the planet.  Cornelia Davis MD 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.

 



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