Prof. Sheila Pereira

Shiela PereiraProfessor Sheila Pereira, former Head of the Department of Child Health passed away on December 22, 2012 in Coimbatore.

She was born in Chittoor (Andhra Pradesh) and did her undergraduate medical training at the Stanley Medical College. She joined CMC in 1954, and except for a brief stint in the UK to complete her MRCP, CMC Vellore remained her calling until her retirement in 1987. In her career as a paediatrician spanning over four decades, she gave of herself- to young children under her care; to her students and juniors, whom she constantly taught and motivated, and to her colleagues with her support and goodwill. Her meticulous attention to punctuality, organization and strong sense of discipline and integrity served as an example to younger generations of paediatricians. With her dynamic personality and a positive philosophy of life, Professor Pereira, to put it simply, was an inspiration.

Professor Pereira did pioneering work on Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) and protein energy malnutrition. Her principal work on Vitamin A won her international acclaim and earned her a prominent place in the International Vitamin A Consultative Committee. She was also a member of the International Nutrition Society and a WHO consultant for international nutrition research. Her love for writing helped her become a prolific publisher of scientific articles, WHO technical reports, chapters and booklets- and, not surprisingly, story books for children. Professor Pereira will also be remembered for the critical role she played in the institution during the turbulent years of the 1970s.

One of the first paediatricians in India – and one of the finest – a whole generation of students have been left bereft in her passing away, but richer for having known her. Tributes have come pouring in of a much-loved teacher, mentor and guide: ‘a great soul; a great human being?.a consummate paediatrician?a gem of a lady.’ Though beset by ill health and infirm with old age, she was her usual self, as Dr. P. Raghupathy remarked after meeting her in October : ‘?..all jokes, clear thoughts and booming voice and hearty laughter.’ The photo accompanying this tribute shows Professor Pereira just as so many remember her- with an exuberant smile.

To Professor Pereira’s nephew, nieces and other members of the extended family, we extend our heartfelt condolences and prayers at this time of loss and grief .To God, we remain grateful for the life of Professor Sheila Pereira.