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Passing of Prof. Ridha Mabrouk, Tunisia

Published: 19.05.2021
Victoria Sheffield Ex-IAPB Vice President
Ahmed Trabelsi Nadi Al Bassar

With deep sadness, we inform you of the passing of Prof. Ridha Mabrouk on Sunday, 9 May 2021 at age 98. Dr. Mabrouk was a great friend of IAPB and all those whom he mentored.  An ophthalmologist who founded Nadi Al Bassar (North African Center for Visual Sciences) in Tunis, he led Tunisia’s efforts to eliminate trachoma and reduce cataract blindness during a large part of the 20th century.

He was a key player in IAPB since its founding and a staunch supporter of “VISION 2020: The Right to Sight”. Dr. Mabrouk was a fellow of the International Eye Foundation’s founder Dr. John Harry King, Jr. in the 1960’s and became the patriarch of public health ophthalmology, a leading clinician and teacher working closely with Tunisia’s Ministry of Health to build human and technological resources for eye health.

Prof. Mabrouk standing front row between Victoria Sheffield and Dr. Hannah Faal at WHO in Geneva, 1998

In the EMR region and West Africa, he was well known and respected by hundreds of the ophthalmologists on their journey to build eye health services in their countries. In 1988, he hosted an important WHO meeting in Tunis on cataract where we discussed strategies and guidelines for the use of IOLs that had become available in developing countries. The meeting was vital and impactful, but we also very much enjoyed the sights, sounds and exotic festivities arranged for the participants including a visit to ancient Carthage.

Dr. Mabrouk received a 2020 IAPB Vision Excellence Award and you can read of his many achievements here. He always had a smile and twinkle in his eye, and was generous and kind to kings, presidents, colleagues, and ordinary citizens alike. Short in stature, but with a huge intellect and heart, we stand on his shoulders and are grateful to have worked with him and to have known him so well.

Victoria M. Sheffield

Ahmed Trabelsi, MD

Photo provided by Victoria Sheffield