NAGUIB MAHFOUZ (1882-1972)

A pioneer of gynecology and obstetrics. He was born at al-Mansurah, Egypt, the youngest son of a family of eight. At the age of sixteen, he entered the Egyptian School of Medicine at al-‘Ayni, from which he graduated four years later in 1902. Appointed anaesthetist in his early career, he later decided to specialize in obstetrics. An exchange of visits between him and surgeons in Europe brought him to the limelight. He headed several departments of gynecology in Cairo’s major hospitals. In 1914, he was appointed head surgeon in the Qasr al-‘Ayni hospital.

Later he was entrusted with the establishment of the first outpatient gynecological clinic in that hospital as well as a child welfare section. To him is also attributed the establishment of the school of nursing. During his long years of teaching and research he collected a vast number of disease specimens that he presented to his school in 1929 on the occasion of its centenary. They became the Mahfouz Obstetric and Gynecological Museum. He received many honorary degrees from Europe and America. In 1942 the honorary fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons was awarded to him along with Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin.

His principal works are The Life of an Egyptian Doctor ( and London, 1966); The History of Medical Education in Egypt (Cairo, 1935); Atlas of Mahfouz’s Obstetric and Gynaecological Museum (3 vols., London, 1949); of Midwifery (in Arabic, Cairo, 1933); Elementary Gynaecology (in Arabic, Cairo, 1927); and Practical Gynaecology (in Arabic, Cairo, 1927).