Andrija Stampar

From Academic Kids

Andrija Štampar (September 1, 1888 - June 26, 1958) was a distinguished scholar in the field of social medicine from Croatia.



Andrija was born in Drenovac near Pleternica, at the time part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, in modern Virovitica-Podravina county. From 1898 to 1906, he attended grammar school in Vinkovci. During his secondary schooling, Andrija was a brilliant pupil and, at that time, he wrote his first literary attempt, published in the periodical Pobratim in 1902. He enrolled at the Medical School in Vienna in 1906, which was at the time the most important medical center in the world. As a medical student, he initiated the editing of medical papers and wrote pamphlets and articles with the intention of educating people in health matters. In 1909 in Nova Gradiška he started publishing the series called Public Health Library discussing numerous topics regarding health and prevention. On December 23, 1911, he was awarded the title of Doctor of Universal Medicine (doctor medicinae universae).


On January 1, 1912, Dr. Štampar started working at the town hospital at Karlovac and remained at this post till August 8, 1913. He enrolled in the Croatian Medical Association, an organization of physicians, and published a few articles in their journal.

By a decree of the Župan, (Prefect) of the Požega District, he was appointed district health officer of Nova Gradiška in 1913. In 1919, he attended the Congress of Inter-Allied Countries for Social Hygiene in Paris giving a lecture on children's health. It showed at that time that he had a clear concept of organizing the public health service.

It was justifiable that he, although only 31 years old, be principal of the former Yugoslav Health Service in Belgrade (Beograd). Thanks to Štampar's endeavours, a special Institute of Social Medicine was founded at the Zagreb Medical School. From 1924 he was the member of several international expert committees, which through his efforts received grants from the Rockefeller Foundation.

King Alexander's dictatorship suddenly put a stop to his work at the Ministry of Public Health in 1930 and, in 1931, he was put on the retired list by the King's decree and came into personal conflict with King Alexander due to his refusal to enter the government. He was offered the portfolio of the Minister of the Interior, but he refused and asked for free elections as a condition.

International activities

From 1931 to 1933, Štampar was permanently employed as the expert of the Health Organization. He entered upon a new kind of work; study travels, extensive lecturing in different parts of the world, confronting health problems at the international level. From October 1931 till January 1932, Štampar was in the United States and Canada as the guest of the Rockefeller Foundation. The League of Nations also entrusted him with the task of acquainting himself with the work of a special American Committee dealing with the costs of medical care.

He also spent time in China. The Health Organization sent him as an advisor to help the Chinese health administration in the control of the mass infectious diseases that cropped up after devastating floods in 1931.

Dr. Štampar has come to China to help our Government in its work on reconstruction based on the plan of technical cooperation with the League of Nations. He went round several provinces, from Kansu and Shanghai in the West to Kwangtung and Kwangsi in the South, and made a valuable contribution to the reconstruction of our villages, especially in the field of rural health protection services. On his departure we wish to give this to him as a remembrance of his work in China, hoping he will come to visit us again.
-- Ching Feng

In 1936, he received an offer from the Secretary General of the League of Nations for the post of an expert at the Health Organization in Geneva. In 1938, he received an invitation from Harvard University in Boston, where he delivered a lecture. After Boston, he toured a great part of North America and lectured on hygiene and social medicine at a series of universities (Yale, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, Cincinnati, Vanderbilt, McHarry, Tulane, Texas, Los Angeles, Berkeley, Portland, Minnesota, Toronto, McGill, Columbia, Galvestone).


Andrija Štampar founded School of Public Health in Zagreb ( in 1927.

By the decree of March 5, 1939, eight years after his election as full professor of Hygiene and Social Medicine in Zagreb, he finally became a professor at Zagreb University. Elected by the Council of the Medical School in Zagreb, Štampar became the Dean of the School for the academic year 1940/41. With the energy so characteristic of him, he set to work on the reform of medical training.

On the third day of the occupation of Zagreb, Štampar was arrested by the Ustasa police. Released, he was arrested again by the German police and sent to Graz, where he was imprisoned and interned until the arrival of the Russian army. On his return in May 1945, he resumed his duty as Professor of Hygiene and Social Medicine at the Medical School and became head of the School of Public Health in Zagreb.

The International Health Conference held in New York in the summer of 1946 was attended by the official representatives of 51 nations. With only a few minor alterations, they accepted the draft of the World Health Organization (WHO). 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.

Štampar was the Rector of Zagreb University for the academic year 1945/46. In 1952, he was again elected the Dean of the Medical School, for 5 years consecutively. He also had an important role in founding of the Medical School at Rijeka in 1955.

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