Nahid Toubia

Lancet. 2007 Mar;369(9564):819

Nahid Toubia

Shetty P


If Nahid Toubia were a city, she would be New York—dynamic, intellectual, and humorous. Ironically though, Toubia herself isn’t the city’s biggest fan. Over lunch in central London, she says she prefers calm environments to counteract her ferocious inner energy. It was this drive that led Toubia, the founder and director of the Research, Action and Information Network for Bodily Integrity of Women (RAINBO), to become the first female surgeon in Sudan.

When she returned to Sudan in 1985 after surgical training in the UK, state health care was so bad that people were dying of illnesses as treatable as asthma because the hospitals had no oxygen. Toubia set up her own clinic to offer emergency care, but the country’s political instability would force her to leave again within a few years—this time for good. Convinced that her life may be under threat, she returned to the UK, then did a stint at New York’s Population Council in 1990, at a time of growing global focus on women’s reproductive health and rights…