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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University March 7, 2005 | Vol. 34 No. 25
Obituary: Alfred Yassa, 55, Chief, of CCP's Near East and Eurasia Division


Alfred Yassa, chief of the Near East and Eurasia Division of the Center for Communication Programs at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, collapsed and died Feb. 22 outside his office in the Candler Building. He had just returned to work, colleagues said, following shoulder surgery. The cause was cardiac arrest.

Colleagues described Yassa, 55, as a teacher, leader, family man and friend whose professionalism touched everyone he met. He will be remembered, they said, for his kind and gentle spirit and his great humility.

Alfred Yassa was born June 28, 1949, in Khartoum, Sudan, and received a medical degree from Cairo University in Cairo, Egypt, and a master's in public health from Harvard. At the time of his death, he lived in Towson with his wife, Emily.

Yassa, who spoke both Arabic and English, spent more than 20 years working in public health and health communication. He developed, implemented, monitored and evaluated country and regional programs and activities for CCP, which he joined in 1994. As Near East Division chief, he managed technical and administrative operations for country projects. Prior to becoming chief, he served as the resident strategic health communication adviser to the Jordan National Population Commission and the Oman Birth Spacing Project.

In Jordan, he led a five-year, national healthy lifestyles project to improve Jordanians' health status with exercise, diabetes control, smoking cessation and improved reproductive health. Yassa also led a groundbreaking effort to involve religious leaders in reproductive health activities in that country, and he helped design a national reproductive health/family-planning strategy and campaign to involve men. He helped secure the endorsement and participation of Jordan's royal family for this campaign, including the active involvement of Her Royal Highness Princess Basma. He played an instrumental role in preparing the Arabic version of the Contraceptive Technology Handbook, which has shaped the work of medical professionals throughout the Near East.

Before joining CCP, Yassa was one of the founders of the Near East Foundation's Center for Development Services. He played an active role in health communication training in the Minya initiative in the 1990s.

"Alfred's great compassion, knowledge and demeanor have touched the hearts and minds of everyone he knew in Jordan," said Soliman Farah, CCP's chief of party in Jordan. "His great spirit was more of that of celestials than humans. It will forever dwell in Jordan's mountains, valleys and deserts he loved so much."

In addition to his wife, Yassa is survived by two sons, George and Michael.

A memorial will be held later this month at CCP.


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