News and notices. Comm Eye Health Vol. 11 No. 25 1998. March 01, 1998

Dr Joseph Taylor OBE FRCS FRCOphth

Dr Joseph Taylor, ophthalmologist, esteemed colleague and friend, died on 21 November 1997, after a short illness in his home town in England. He was 69.

For more than 30 years Dr Taylor worked as one of the great pioneers of eye work in Africa and, with immense personal commitment, promoted the development of programmes for the prevention of blindness. Recognising the importance of ‘avoidable’ blindness, treating eye diseases, making sure that the poorest of the poor were guaranteed high quality medical care, he gave practical expression to his strong Christian belief. He dedicated all his energy into this work until the very last hour of his life.

Born on 18 February, 1928, in Falkenau, today called Sokolof, in the Czech Republic, he was forced, when still very young, to escape from the Nazi occupation to England. From 1946 until 1951, he studied medicine at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical College and, one year after his final examinations in England, left for Kenya and Tanzania. Supported by his wife, Joan, he developed medical services for the poorest people of these populations under the most difficult conditions.

Confronted with innumerable people suffering from blindness or from eye diseases, and, in view of the then still very poor quality of eye care in the countries of East Africa, Dr Taylor decided to study ophthalmology in London. Afterwards he concentrated all his efforts on eye care programmes such that developments in eye care in the whole of Africa progressed enormously. In addition to his work as ophthalmologist at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre, Moshi, Tanzania, Dr Taylor was highly esteemed in many projects and programmes as an Ophthalmic Consultant. In this capacity, he was instrumental in developing policies and strategies for blindness prevention in developing countries and these are still considered to be models in the field. The emphasis of his work also focused on the development of appropriate technology in eye care, for example the local production of eye drops and the manufacture of low-cost eye glasses in local workshops. For this initiative and for many other innovative ideas he acquired an outstanding international reputation.

The name of Dr Joseph Taylor will always be closely linked with the history of eye care in developing countries and with the work of Christoffel Blindenmission. His personal commitment, his caring nature and his passion to meet the needs of others, will always be an example for ophthalmologists all over the world.

We say good-bye to an outstanding personality. We look back on his life and work with admiration and gratitude. Our deepest sympathy is with his wife, Joan, who was at his side from the beginning to support him in all his efforts, and with his children and relatives.

News and notices in Comm Eye Health Vol. 11 No. 25 1998 –