Prof. Alsheikh Mahjoub: The Medic Who Overwhelmed Horrific Mycetoma Disease

Prof. Alsheikh Mahjoub: The Medic Who Overwhelmed Horrific Mycetoma Disease

KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Professor Alsheikh Mahjoub is a towering Sudanese personality with spectacular achievements in the service of humanity in the domains of scientific and academic research.

 He is known among his fellow doctors and students for patience, dedication and selflessness.        .

And if Professor Mahjoub had not presented anything other than his breakthroughs in the treatment of the horrible mycetoma disease, that could have been enough. But his scientific and medical life is one of achievements and honors of sorts.

A scientific demonstration to honor him was organized in 2015 by scientists, researchers, intellectuals and persons from the Sudanese spectrum during which he was continuously referred to as the Mycetoma King.

Mycetoma is a chronic subcutaneous infection caused by aerobic actinomycetic bacteria (actinomycetoma) or fungi eumycetoma. While most cases of mycetoma occur in Sudan, Venezuela, Mexico, and India, its true prevalence and incidence are not well-known. It appears most frequently in people living in rural areas, particularly farmers and shepherds.

This title ‘Mycetoma King’ is in recognition of Prof. Mahjoub’s achievements in the treatment of this stubborn disease after the World Health Organization (WHO), the British Overseas Development Ministry, the University of Khartoum and the Sudanese Ministry of Health assigned him to lead a research project (1968-1975) to find a cure other than surgery, for this disease.

He eventually devised a treatment in injections and medical pills for the disease and published a complete research on his findings in the WHO magazine in Geneva, in 1986. By that he was the first medic to successfully treat mycetoma through medicines, instead of surgery or amputation. This medication has remained as the basic agreed upon treatment for mycetoma in the World up to now.

Mycetoma is an endemic disease in Sudan, in particular in the poor savannah districts of the Jezira (central Sudan), Kordofan (mid-west), Darfur (west) and some parts of the East.

The disease infects farmers and herders’ feet and legs in the first place, causing flesh from the infected parts to fall down, thus leading to disabilities if not treated at an early stage.

Prof. Mahjoub graduated from the Faculty of Medicine in 1961. He then obtained his post graduate certificates from British universities.

He did Research in Medical Mycology for over 50 years mostly on Mycetoma and Paranasal Aspergillus Granuloma (PNAG).

His research was appreciated by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine to be awarded its Ademola Prize (1987) and the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO) of the World Health Organization (WHO) to award him its Shousha Prize (1989).

He was granted honorary life long membership of the British Society for Mycopathology (BSM) and the International Society for Human and Animal Mycology (ISHAM).

In 1977 and after he was annoyed by continuous arrests during the regime of dictator Ja’far Mohammad Nimeri, he travelled to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where he established and chaired the pathology section at King Saud University.

Despite the high salary he used to receive from that University, he at a later stage chose to return to the University of Khartoum, because he felt it was in need for his service.

During the democratic rule of 1986-1989 he was nominated parliament speaker, an offer he turned down saying he preferred to offer all he could to his country in other areas.

But in 1988 he was agreed to be appointed minister of higher education and scientific research.

In that office he refused to convert the Khartoum Polytechnic Institute into a university, arguing that Sudan was in need of graduates with specific abilities universities do not provide.

After the Bashir coup in 1989, Prof. Mahjoub was put under arrest and after his release he was obliged to once again work abroad. This time he joined the WHO, working in its Alexandria bureau, Egypt, between 1990 and 1999 as Regional Adviser for Research and then Director of the Health Services Development Division.

He then returned to Sudan in 2005, serving his country through the University of Khartoum’s council for medical specializations and as member of a medical panel set to assess the faculties of medicine around the country, an assignment that demands a lot of travel.

As a lecturer of medicine, he used to teach students of medicine, dental medicine and medical laboratory science and as an external examiner for a lot of universities in Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

He has supervised a lot MSc. and PhD researches in medicine and general health. He has several published studies.

In this bid he has written and published tens of articles in international periodicals. He has published some books on the mycetoma disease. He has also delivered many lectures in different universities around the World and is member of editorial boards of regional and international medical periodicals.

As a medical doctor, Prof. Mahjoub has used to keep a close follow up of his patients in his free of charge weekly clinic and at the Soba Teaching Hospital here.



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