Lives of the fellows

Ahmed Hafez Mousa

b.16 June 1911 d.? 1976
MB BCh Cairo(1936) MD(1940) MRCP(1944) DTM&H(1946) FRCP(1972)

For nearly thirty years Ahmed Havez Mousa was the most dominant speaker and activist in the specialty of tropical and endemic diseases in Egypt. He was born in Talkha, a village in the Daqahliya province, north east of the Nile delta. He was educated at Tanta and at Mansoura Secondary School. He moved to Cairo to enrol in medical school and was accepted at the Kasr El Ainy School of Medicine, at that time part of Fouad the First University, now known as Cairo University. He graduated in 1936 and went on to complete his internship and residency in the internal diseases section of the Kasr El Ainy Hospital.

Mousa’s academic and professional career was closely linked with the Kasr El Ainy School of Medicine and the University of Cairo. He joined the faculty as a lecturer in 1942, was promoted to associate professor of tropical medicine in 1953 and to full professor in 1957. During his early years on the faculty of the school of medicine, Mousa worked hard to gain additional training and to extend his understanding of the major health problems of Egypt. In 1946 he was sent to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to obtain his diploma in tropical medicine. He returned to establish the department of endemic diseases at Kasr El Ainy Hospital and Cairo University, which he chaired for many years. Under his guidance a generation of Egyptian physicians were trained in many different areas of endemic diseases research. Mousa also played a leading role in establishing the Theodore Bilharz Research Institute.

He had a keen scientific intelligence and intense energy to work, lecture and campaign. He published widely during his career, writing more than 150 papers, as well as editing and contributing to many books. Mousa’s interest in tropical diseases in general and schistosomiasis in particular began by reporting a case of pulmonary schistosomiasis in 1942. This was followed by more detailed descriptions of this particular manifestation of schistosomiasis, which appeared in many publications between 1949 and 1960. During subsequent years Mousa published scientific papers on every aspect of human schistosomiasis. A considerable effort was given to the examination of the effect of anti-schistosome chemotherapy on the disease. These studies evaluated miracil D, tartar emetic, hycanthone and Niridazole. Mousa appreciated the role of chemotherapy, not only at the level of infected individuals, but as a control method that can be applied to infected populations. In 1976 he contributed a seminal paper on mass chemotherapy campaigns for the control of schistosomiasis in Egypt. The development of this concept was based on his understanding of the pathogenesis of cardiopulmonary, intestinal, vesical and hepatosplenic schistosomiasis. His other major scientific achievement was the introduction of modern methodologies to investigate the clinical manifestations of schistosomiasis, as well as other major parasitic diseases including amebiasis and hookworm infection. Mousa’s interest and support for clinical investigations did not stop at the hospital bedside level, but extended to infected populations and to animals in the laboratory. Financial support for research was not always easily available and Mousa used his own money to fund his unit and help support his students and young colleagues.

In the early 1960s Mousa expanded his interest in schistosomiasis from the clinical to the epidemiological and public health features of this infection. This marked the development of his prominent national and international reputation as a spokesman and leader in the specialty. He became the secretary general of the Egyptian Medical Association and president of the Egyptian Association of Parasitology and Tropical Medicine. He was honoured by the Egyptian government and posthumously received the third Behring-Bilharz prize in 1979.

As chairman of the department of endemic diseases Mousa was kind and courteous to his colleagues and students. He helped each find and develop their own area of interest and guided their development. He had no children from his marriage to Nahed Sobhi Al-Etriby, but he left a lasting legacy to his country in the generations he trained and inspired. Most went on to head the endemic diseases departments in almost all Egyptian universities.

Adel A F Mahmoud

(Volume X, page 349)

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