Dr. Andrija Štampar – Father of Modern Croatian Health

Andrija Štampar, 1970, Yugoslavia, stamp

Dr. Andrija Štampar was born in Brodski Drenovac in 1888 as the teacher’s second child, and his family is originally from a small village in Lika – Senj County.

In the same county in Smiljan is the birthplace of the already well known Nikola Tesla with its museum and education center!

But let’s return to today’s topic, which is the story of a well-known Croatian doctor and the father of modern Croatian health.

Andrija Štampar graduated in medicine from Vienna at the best educational institution of its kind in the world in 1911, after which he worked as a municipal doctor in Nova Gradiška and then as a health adviser to the Social Welfare Commission of the National Council in Zagreb.

Dr. Andrija Štampar – Father of Modern Croatian Health

Thanks to the efforts of the Andrija Štampar, a special Institute of Social Medicine was established, affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine, University of Zagreb. Since 1924 he has been a member of several international expert committees that have received grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, to which we also thank the institutions he founded. Andrija Štampar founded the School of Public Health in Zagreb in 1927.

From 1919 to 1930 he was head of the hygiene department at the Ministry of Public Health in Belgrade and during that period established a health service in what was then Yugoslavia, organizing 250 hygiene institutions (Central Institute of Hygiene in Belgrade, School of Public Health in Zagreb, Institute for Malaria in Trogir and a series of public health centers.). Through his program, he sought to make the doctor a social worker and a national teacher, economically independent of the patient, equally accessible to all sections of the population and strengthened preventive medicine as opposed to curative medicine.

Dr. Andrija Štampar 1939.

After his forced retirement in 1931 as the authorities did not allow him to work in the country, he worked as a specialist in the Hygiene Organization of the Society of Nations in European Countries and the United States. From 1933 to 1936, he resided in China, where he reorganized the public health service.

After World War II, Dr. Štampar was Director of the School of Public Health in Zagreb, Dean of the School of Medicine in Zagreb, Rector of the University of Zagreb, President of JAZU(Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts), and founder of the Institute of Occupational Health. In 1946 he was elected First Vice-President of the UN Economic and Social Council. He chaired the first World Health Assembly in Geneva in 1948, after which, as a WHO envoy, he studied public health and medical education in Afghanistan, Egypt, Sudan and, Ethiopia.

Dr. Andrija Štampar – Father of Modern Croatian Health

During his life, he performed many duties and actively advocated for social medicine and for addressing the medical needs of young people. The idea behind him has always been that health professionals must first and foremost act on health risk groups. He advocated the widespread health education of people, believing that many diseases can be successfully suppressed that way.

His principles of public health, which today established public health and social medicine, are worldwide famous. “It is more important to inform people than the law. The most important thing is to prepare the terrain and the proper understanding of health issues in one environment. Everyone’s concerns should be addressed about public health and the work to improve it. Social therapy is more important than individual therapy. The doctor should not be economically dependent on the patient. No distinction should be made between economically strong and weak. In a healthcare organization, a doctor should look for a patient, not the other way around, to cover all those who need protection. The issue of public health is of greater economic than humanitarian importance. The main point of the medical activity is where people live, not the doctor’s office.” says Štampar.

Dr. Andrija Štampar is the father of preventive medicine, not only in Croatia but also in the world, and his definition of health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not just the absence of illness or incapacity, has survived to this day and has been incorporated in the Constitution of the World Health Organization.

He died on 26 June 1958.

Bernarda Cenkovčan, author

School of Public Health, Andrija Štampar

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