Andrija Stampar

- an inspiration for all of us -


Doctor Andrija Štampar was born in the Croatian countryside 1988. His parents were schoolteachers and moved around the country a lot. This gave him many opportunities to observe the daily life of the people. He qualified in medicine in Graz during the period of the Habsburg Empire. There was no medical school in Croatia at that time. In the 1920s he worked in a senior position in the newly created Ministry of Health in Belgrade. Apparently at this time he was very outspoken about what needed to be done.

In the period 1927-28, he founded the School of Public Health in Zagreb, with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. From this base, he began to develop the public health system for the whole of Yugoslavia. As a result of these successful activities he was invited by the King to take up the cabinet post of Minister of the Interior. He accepted subject to certain conditions, which the King did not accept. Subsequently he went to China as an official of the League of Nations, and set up a fledgling public health system under its auspices.

He spent the period of the Second World War in prison, but in 1945 was appointed as Professor of Social Medicine in Zagreb. He also served as Dean of the Medical School and as President of the Academy of Arts and Sciences of Croatia. In 1946 he was president of the Interim Committee of WHO, charged with setting up its structures and constitution. It also drew up the famous definition of health. Professor Štampar was chairman of the first WHO General Assembly in 1948.