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In Remembrance of our Colleague Anita Datar

We are deeply saddened by the senseless death of our friend and colleague Anita Datar, who was killed during the terrorist attack on the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali on November 20, 2015.

Anita and two colleagues were in Mali representing both Palladium and the US government agencies US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the President’s Emergency Plan for HIV & AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), where they were working to improve the region’s HIV/AIDS and reproductive health response. Both colleagues survived the attack and were evacuated to safety.

Anita, 41, dedicated her career to improving healthcare outcomes in developing countries. After graduating from Rutgers, she spent two years with the Peace Corps in Senegal, working as a healthcare extensionist at the village level. She went on to receive a Master’s in Public Health and a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University in 2002. She joined Futures Group (now Palladium) in 2004, where she spent the last decade working to eradicate HIV/AIDS and improve family planning and reproductive healthcare in developing countries, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa. She was widely recognised as a leader in geospatial mapping of HIV/AIDS hotspots to improve prevention, care and treatment for HIV.

Most recently, she served as the Senior Director for Field Programs for HP+, a cooperative agreement from USAID to strengthen and advance developing country health policy and financing for family planning and reproductive health, HIV and maternal health.

While working at Palladium, she also co-founded the non-profit Tulalens, which improves the status and circumstances of women in India.

She will be remembered as a dedicated humanitarian and a trusted and beloved colleague, not only by the extended Palladium family but also by the many global partners with whom she also worked. Ambassador Debbi Birx, head of PEPFAR, praised her as “an exemplar public health servant,” adding that “we were so fortunate to have such an extraordinary woman dedicated to ending HIV/AIDS and standing up for human rights. She inspires all of us to do better…we admired Anita’s compassion and sensitivity and true commitment to the cause.”

Colleagues have repeatedly spoken of her as a mentor, someone who gave them courage and was always there to listen. Despite the serious nature of her work and the depth of her commitment to it, she was unafraid to be funny, brightening the office with her sense of humour and her incredible smile.

Palladium is establishing a memorial scholarship in Anita’s name to Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health so that new generations can continue her life’s work.

On behalf of everyone at Palladium, we extend our condolences to her family and friends, and especially to her young son Rohan. Our thoughts are with her loved ones.