Dr. Ċensu Tabone, M.D., D.O. (Oxon), D.O.M.S. (Lond), D.M.J., F.R.C.S. (Edin), F.I.C.S., K.U.O.M., LL.D. (Hon Causa); was born in Victoria, Gozo on 30 March 1913 and was educated at St. Aloysius College and the University of Malta where he graduated as a Pharmacist in 1933 and as a Doctor of Medicine in 1937. On the 23rd November 1943 he married Maria Wirth and has three sons and five daughters.
During World War II he joined the Royal Malta Artillery and served as a regimental Medical Officer, as a general duty officer and later as a trainee ophthalmic specialist at the Military Hospital, Mtarfa. In 1946 he proceeded to the United Kingdom for further training in ophthalmology and in the same year obtained a Diploma in Ophthalmology of the University of Oxford. Later he obtained a Diploma in Ophthalmic Medicine and Surgery of the Conjoint Board of the Royal College of Surgeons of England.
He returned to Malta in 1947 and since then has been engaged in ophthalmic practice and has held senior posts in various hospitals. In 1945 he was entrusted with the anti-trachoma campaign in Gozo, with the result that in due course the disease was practically eliminated from the Island. This campaign was in many ways a pioneer project as were those of the World Health Organisation which he helped launch in many countries, notably in Taiwan, Indonesia and Iraq. He was elected Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1949. From 1956 he served as a member of the International Panel of Trachoma Experts of WHO and was a consultant with this Organisation for many years.
In 1954 he founded the Medical Officers Union, now the Medical Association (M.A.M.) and for many years was its president. In 1953 he obtained a Diploma in medical Jurisprudence of the Society of Apothecaries of London. Dr. Tabone has also been a member of the Council of the University of Malta, a member of the Faculty Board of Medicine from 1957 to 1960 and lecturer in Clinical Ophthalmology in the Department of Surgery.
Dr. Tabone has been active in politics since the early sixties and in 1961 became a member of the Partit Nazzjonalista's (PN) Executive Committee. For ten years, from 1962 to 1972, he was Secretary General and from 1972 to 1977 the First Deputy Leader of the NP. In 1978 he was elected President of the Executive Committee. He held this post up to August 1985.
Dr. Tabone contested the General Elections for the first time in the interests of the PN in 1962. In 1966 he was elected a Member of Parliament and became Minister of Labour, Employment and Welfare. He was re-elected in 1971, 1976, 1981 and 1987 and the districts he represented included l-Imsida, San Ġiljan, Sliema and il-Gżira. He represented the Nationalist Parliamentary Group in the Council of Europe since 1973 and was Party Spokesman on Foreign Affairs since 1978. He was a member of various Council of Europe Committees for several years and rapporteur of the Political Affairs Committee, of the Committee of Health and Social Affairs, and of the Committee for European non-member countries of which he has also been President. He was the Founder of the 'Akkademja Għall-Iżvilupp ta' l-Ambjent Demokratiku' (AZAD) and was its President from 1976 to 1988.
After the elections of May 1987, he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. In 1968, when he was then Minister of Labour, Employment and Welfare, he made a proposal at the United Nations in New York for the greater attention to the ageing population of the World, which in time led to the Vienna Action Plan on Ageing, and in 1988 the establishment of the U.N. Institute on Ageing in Malta. In September 1988 he made a proposal in the United Nations in New York that climate should be considered as a common heritage of mankind. Within three months this led to the drafting of a U.N. resolution of Climate Change to reduce man-made actions which are at the root of such a change.
On the 16th March, 1989, Dr. Tabone tendered his resignation as Minister of Foreign Affairs and member of the House of Representatives; and on the 4th April of the same year he was elected by Parliament as the fourth President of Malta. and he served from 1989 till 1994.
He died on 14 March, 2012 at the age of 99.
Diplomas, qualifications, decorations, awards, etc.:-
Awarded testimonial by the Secretary General of the United Nations in recognition of his dedicated service in support of the United Nations programme on Aging.
- Degree of Doctor of Laws LL.D. (Hons Causa) by the University of Malta.
- Companion of Honour of the Order of Merit (K.U.O.M.)
- Special Grade of Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
- 'Pro Merito' Medal from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
- Awarded Presidential Gold Medal of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.
- Grand Collar of the Order of Makarios III.
- Cavaliere Di Gran Croce decorato con Gran Cordone al Merito.
- M.D. (Hons. Causa) by the Beijing Medical College, China.