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Dr Naguib Mahfouz Museum

By: Salwa Samir

Yes. You read the headline correctly. There was a doctor called Naguib Mahfouz. Millions of Egyptians and Arabs know the literary legend Naguib Mahfouz, the writer of the notable work, the Cairo Trilogy. Egypt’s other Naguib Mahfouz, is less famous than the Nobel laureate.

Inside El-Kasr El-Aini School of Medicine in central Cairo there is a medical gem that dates back to 1930. It is the Middle East and Africa’s oldest and most comprehensive depository of gynaecological and obstetrical pathologic specimens.

It is called, the Museum of Naguib Mahfouz Pasha (1882-1974), the founder of Egypt’s first dedicated Obstetrics and Gynaecology (Ob/Gyn) service at the University.

Dr Ahmed El-Minawi, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Kasr El-Aini School of Medicine and the Museum Curator, said, “The museum contains some 1350 jars of the obstetrics and gynaecology specimens obtained from Dr Mahfouz’ operations.”

The displayed specimens cover a large range of common and rare obstetrical and gynaecological conditions.

The story began at the beginning of the 20th Century when Professor Mahfouz decided to study Obstetrics because of the suffering he saw women go through at that time.

So, in 1905 he convinced the Dean of the Kasr El-Aini Medical School, Dr Keating, to allow him to start an obstetrics and gynaecology service, the first of its kind in Egypt.

During those early years, Dr Mahfouz treated thousands of cases and collected very rare specimens which he later donated to be displayed in the Museum.

The museum achieved high acclaim and its specimens were catalogued in a British-published three-volume atlas in 1947.

In 1945, the museum was described by the then President of England’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists,Sir Eardley Holland, as “a remarkable collection” and ” a wonderful monument to the name of its founder”.

The museum is primarily dedicated to aiding in the education, training and continuing professional development of doctors.

Dr El-Minawi said that the museum was using digital technology to make it easier for students and visitors in general to access the collection by using QR (quick response) codes to provide more detailed information to the visitor and a description of the pathology specimens.

The museum is equipped with dioramas to facilitate the provision of historical information and for descriptive purposes.

The Ob/Gyn Department has established an annual award for major scientific contributions to the field of Ob/Gyn, whether locally or internationally with the aim of showing gratitude to, and in commemoration of, Professor Mahfouz.

The first recipient was Professor Kypros Nicolaides of King’s College in the UK, for his substantial contributions to Fetal Medicine.

He received the Award in Cairo in March 2018. The award is a large medal, made of 950 Silver, weighing a substantial 380gms, with a bust of Professor Mahfouz on the front.