Featured Doctor

ŠTAMPAR, Dr Andrija

Croatia: Rural Hero (1888-1958)


Croatian doctor, Andrija Štampar was born on 1st September 1888 in Drenovac, a village not far from Slavonski Brod. After his secondary schooling in Vinkovci he went to Vienna which at the time was the most important centre for medicine in the world.

In 1919, he joined the Ministry of Public Health in Belgrade, dedicating his time to theoretical and organizational work and to the systematic development of health institutions in the old Yugoslavia. During this period he In 1931 he was elected professor at the Zagreb University School of Medicine, Department of Hygiene and Social Medicine.

Štampar spent WW II in internment in Graz, Austria. After the war, he resumed his duties as a professor of hygiene and social medicine and assumed the position of the director of the School of Public Health in Zagreb. He fought to increase the proportion of practical classes for future physicians. Due to his endeavours, a College of Nursing was established under the auspices of the Zagreb University School of Medicine.

From 1952 to 1957, Andrija Štampar was the Dean of the Zagreb University School of Medicine.

Why a Rural Hero?

Andrija Štampar was one of the most charismatic figures of the 20th century public health. He was the founder of many health-related institutions in Croatia and world-wide. He devoted his life work to medical needs of ordinary, little people. Andrija Štampar promulgated his beliefs about social medicine and health enlightenment, which he continued to follow through-out his whole life. Andria Štampar was one of the leading figures in the development of “Social medicine” – a new medical movement at the turn of the 20th century. The movement recognised the need to develop population based health responses, alongside the traditional personal medical care required of doctors.

To this day, “health” is defined in the words he wrote: “health is a state of full physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not absence of illness.”

An “organistic approach” to society and social diseases at the turn of the 20th century shaped his unquestionable faith in the importance of disease prevention and his attitude to the traditional physicians' approach.

The metaphor “society as an organism" became a specific cultural ethos of the health protection movement, with Andrija Štampar as the leading representative at the national and international level.

He was a member and the president of the Yugoslavian Academy of Sciences and Arts and chaired the First World Health Assembly in Geneva in 1948. Štampar was elected as the first President of the Assembly unanimously.

At the 8th regular session of WHO in Mexico City, in 1955, Štampar was awarded the Leon Bernard Foundation Prize and Medal, the greatest international recognition of merit in the field of social medicine.

Submitted by Tanja Pekez Pavliško (tashamed@gmail.com) Croatian Coordination of Family Physicians – KoHOM