The “Andrija Štampar” School of Public Health was founded in 1927, attributed to the initiative of a group of public health workers led by Dr Andrija Štampar and the financial support of the Rockefeller Foundation. The School was formally opened on October 3, 1927. In the first years of its functioning the School was integrated with the Institute of Hygiene into one institution. At the time Institutes of Hygiene carried out very important tasks: they supervised and, in a way, directed the work of health institutions in their regions. The School was the top element of public hygienic service entrusted with the task to study conditions which might have favourable or unfavourable impacts on people’s health.
One of the principles which later on gained in importance was to consider medicine as one and an integrated discipline in which prevention and treatment were different aspects of integrated health care. According to such views and practice, the hygienic service in the country was considered by many experts in the world as an original, progressive and successful form of health care.
Within the ‘Institute of Hygiene with the School of Public Health’ extensive field work on the investigation of health condition was also organized as well as health campaigns, such as health education, endemic disease control (malaria), rural sanitation (e.g. the village of Mraclin). The Institute also attracted “social physicians” from practice, nurses and other profiles of health workers, teachers, veterinarians, etc. for different forms of continuing education. Special attention was paid to the development and active participation in the education of nurses.
Since health improvement in the rural areas was one of the highest priorities, the School organized the so called ‘Countrymen’s University’. Specially designed seminars for village dwellers – both men and women – were conducted in which they were taught about health and the methods of improving health. In this programme, modern pedagogical views were developed, such as practicum, workshops and exercises dealing with agriculture, domestic economics and rural sanitation. Health was considered in its broadest sense a part of life and development of the community.
A rich library and the School’s own publishing service were developed as well as printing. The organized photo-film laboratory is the one where the first artistic films in the country were made
In 1947, after the World War II, the School became an independent institution of the Medical School, University of Zagreb, taking over teaching for medical students in preventive subjects.
Hygiene and Social Medicine, the main “preventive” subjects in the students’ curriculum, were considerably reorganized.
A significant success was, however, the implementation of this teaching in field practice. The interest for such forms of teaching initiated the students to form the ‘Club of Public Health’.
An important activity of the School at the time was the organization of postgraduate education. Courses in public health very successfully established clearly oriented professionals for the organization of health care, and for different activities in institutes of hygiene.
A specific trait of the School was in its active engagement in the formation of postgraduate education for all profiles of professionals in primary health care.
Especially interesting is the introduction of organized postgraduate vocational training for general practitioners, the first of its kind in the world. It also had a considerable influence on introduction of similar training in many countries.
In collaboration with the World Health Organization and other international agencies, The “Andrija Štampar” School of Public Health has organized many international postgraduate courses in different fields of public health, attended by students from 60 countries.
Considering its postgraduate activities, The “Andrija Štampar” School of Public Health is undoubtedly a unique institution in the country. Of special significance is the transfer of experience and collaboration with developed and developing countries. It has been stated several times that The “Andrija Štampar” School of Public Health is a leader in the field of public health. The School is an active member of The Association of Schools of Public Health of the European Region (ASPHER) with its secretariat located at the School for two terms. As a result of the School’s overall work, the WHO has designated, in 1982, The “Andrija Štampar” School of Public Health its Collaborating Centre for Primary Health Care.
The School is also a member of The Network of Community-oriented Educational Institutions for Health Sciences and The Network of Training Institutions for improving primary health care management.
Today and Future
In the last decade, School members have initiated and carried out several seminars at the Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik, such as ‘Social Gerontology in Intercultural Perspectives’, ‘Training of Teachers in General Practice’, ‘Self-care’, ‘Human Rights and Medicine’, etc.
The principle that without scientific work there can be no good quality teaching, was always emphasized. The scientific work developed in all fields in which teaching was conducted. Scientific and professional activities enabled a closer link with public health practice. It is also a way to unite with institutions with similar interests in other countries. Therefore, significant scientific and professional activities have been conducted on behalf or in collaboration with the World Health Organization or through direct contacts with numerous foreign institutions. This was also a way to transfer modern scientific and professional technology.
Research work has been carried out in the fields of social medicine and epidemiology, training activities, medical sociology, health ecology, environmental sanitation, microbiology, informatics and statisticc, primary health care, particulary family medicine, etc.
One of the central views in socio-medical research has been that recognition of the problem is not sufficient in itself. It is also necessary to provide solutions and put them into practice.
Neither the war in Croatia nor the war devastations that Croatia suffered in the course of its struggle for independence have stopped the educational, professional and scientific activities performed by the School staff. At the time these were only partly reoriented towards new tasks and challenges.
The Health Department at the Government Office for Refugees and Displaced Persons was established;
The manual “Public Health in War Conditions” was published;
The training organized for displaced persons and entitled “School for Returning Home” was provided;
Several three-month courses were organized in collaboration with he Bonner Institute and designed for experts to deal with psychological support using the NLP method;
Video and written educational kits for children and their parents on protection from explosive devices and weapons were developed in collaboration with the UNICEF;
Women’s health care was provided through a project ‘Mobile Clinic for Women’;
Health promotion programmes primarily focused on children ‘s health care were carried out in refugee centres.