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Vincent “Ċensu” Tabone

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 11 April 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2623
  1. Ned Stafford
  1. ns{at}

President of Malta who pioneered anti-trachoma campaigns

From earliest childhood Vincent Tabone was very much aware of trachoma, the leading cause of infectious blindness in the world. The disease affected at least one member of 30% of all families on the tiny Maltese island of Gozo, where Tabone was born. So, not surprisingly, Tabone had wanted to train in ophthalmology after earning his medical degree in 1937 from the University of Malta.

Unfortunately for Tabone, ophthalmology training was not available in Malta at the time and soon thereafter, in 1939, the second world war broke out. Tabone served as medical officer in the Royal Malta Artillery, working in various hospitals on Malta. Towards the end of the war as the military action moved far beyond Malta, Tabone finally got his wish. A British ophthalmologist based on Malta began training Tabone. When discharged in 1946, Tabone was awarded a scholarship for intensive ophthalmology training in the United Kingdom.

After a year in the UK, he returned to Malta as an ophthalmologist armed with the latest knowledge and expertise. He began an important systematic battle against trachoma on his home island.

“The eradication of trachoma was and still is, to some extent, a huge story,” said Robert Feibel, a clinical ophthalmology …

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