Rural Heroes project launched in Dubrovnik

Dr Jo Scott-Jones writes about the launch of the Rural heroes project at the recent WONCA World Rural health conference in Dubrovnik.

My father inspired me to go into medicine. He was a male nurse who became a charge nurse on a urology ward, and stayed at that level despite offers into management roles because he believed nursing was about serving patients, not deciding what colour hat to wear on Thursdays.

The “Rural Heroes Project” arose out of a desire to celebrate the stories of people who have inspired us, whose work has had significant impact on our countries’ or even global health, and who have come from or worked in rural communities around the world.

At the WONCA World Rural Health Conference in Dubrovnik we made the first presentations of stories of some of your rural heroes. Two of those stories are shared in this month's WONCA News.

The “heroes tale” in literature is one that includes a number of elements – usually the hero begins in humble circumstances, they have a call to adventure, receive help from others, suffer disaster and decent to an abyss, but recover and develop strength, then return home, changed in some way and with a gift or additional skills that can help.

The stories that have been shared all common have share common threads with the heroes tale.

Andrija Štampar
was born in a small rural town in the Balkans, but was called to Vienna to study medicine. His abyss must have come during World War Two which he spent in an internment camp in Austria. His passion and talents led to the development concepts of social medicine and eventually he was instrumental in the development of the World Health Organization.

read more about Andrija Štampar

Alex MacLeod went through service in Gallipoli in WWl, worked in an arduous environment with the support of few telephones, fewer cars, travel involved 16 sea crossings, and making his way on horseback and foot around the community. He never refused a visit to a patient even if it meant a journey by boat or even occasionally swimming.

Alex MacLeod worked innovatively to expand the role of the nurses who worked in his community, and made the first use of an air ambulance and apart from the service he gave to his community, he also gifted them his son John who carried on his work.

read more about Alex MacLeod

The rural heroes project will continue, although we are exploring ways to adapt it. You are welcome to share your hero stories using the template on the WONCA website. More information available here.
Jo Scott-Jones

Are you a rural hero? - take the light-hearted survey here.
Read report of meeting of the WONCA Working Party on Rural Practice held recently in Dubrovnik