International Association of Rural Health and Medicine(IARM)
Overview of the 19th Congress in Lodi, Itay, 2015

URL:http://www.ragusashwa.it/lodi/

Report on the 18th Congress in Goa, India, 2012

Click here (PDF)

Prof. Istvan Szilard Received
European Citizen’s Prize

   IARM honorary board member Professor István Szilárd was decorated with
 the European Citizen’s Prize - a short overview of his life path

Professor István Szilárd graduated as an MD at the Medical University of Pécs in Hungary in 1968. He completed his specialization in internal medicine and public health medicine in Pécs and received a PhD from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1984.
Currently, he is coordinating the training and research program of the University of Pécs Medical School in the field of migrant and ethnic minority health as chief scientific adviser at the Department of Operational Medicine.
He joined to the International Association of Agricultural Medicine and Rural Health (IAAMRH) in 1986, during the presidency of professor Tényi. At that time, he was associate professor in his institute.
He was faced first with the health consequences of the “manmade disaster” for innocent civilians at the time of the bloody civil war in the former Yugoslavia (1991 – 1995). The first refugees from the city of Osijek – only 41 Km from Pécs – arrived at the medical clinic where he was on night duty on a cold November night in 1991. It was a determining experience for his future carrier.
More than 300,000 refugees arrived from the neighboring country to Hungary and, working at that time for the Hungarian Red Cross (HRC), he was engaged in their health assistance. In 1991 he visited Japan as a representative of the HRC. During this trip, on the invitation of Dr. Wakatsuki, founding Secretary General of IAAMRH, he visited Saku Central Hospital and participated in the graduation ceremony of the Nursing School.
In 1996, following the Dayton Peace Agreement, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) invited him to assess the conditions of the ruined Bosnia, and he was appointed to coordinate IOM health relief operations in the region.
Professor Szilárd was able to compensate successfully for the serious consequences of the war and the “ethnical cleansing” in the region through the revitalization of health services, including training health professionals and postgraduates and planning and coordinating an innovative program for facilitating the “return of health professionals.” Naturally, this was the result of the very strong and successful cooperation of a number of humanitarian organizations. WHO has to be mentioned first among them.
Unfortunately, as a consequence of the long-lasting chaos, Bosnia became the crossroads of human trafficking. It was also the task of Dr. István Szilárd to organize the first shelters for the victims of human trafficking and to manage their health rehabilitation.
Following the consolidation in Bosnia, another part of the region, Kosovo, became a new crisis field. As a consequence of ethnical cleansing in 1999, the exodus of Kosovar Albanians grew with rapidity that international humanitarian agencies had never before met or forecasted. In three months, one million Albanians had left the country out of its two and a half million population. Hundreds of thousands of Kosovar refugees were living in camps. There was an impressive international solidarity. Twenty-five countries offered hospitalization free-of-charge to people whose treatment could not be managed in the camps. Thanks to the “priority medical evacuation” programs managed by Dr. Szilárd, thousands of patients were transferred all over the world by charter flights. For example, Sweden offered pediatric heart surgery, Germany offered hemodialysis capacity, etc.
Following the consolidation, just like in Bosnia, the shortage of health professionals was a problem that needed a quick solution. With the help of Hungarian universities, Dr. Szilárd organized and launched medical and nursing training programs at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
In 2003, the IOM European HQ in Brussels decided to establish the Migration Health Department responsible for the European region. Dr. István Szilárd was appointed to perform this task and then to lead the new unit. He was also acting as the IOM liaison for the European Commission on migration-health.
Human trafficking became a growing humanitarian problem worldwide. IOM appointed Dr. Szilárd as the “Health Focal Point” of the counter-trafficking programs across Europe.
On 23 July 2003, he was elected as Secretary General by the Executive Board and General Assembly of IAAMRH in Ayudhaya, Thailand.
Within the frame of the Ethnic Minorities programs of the European Union, he started to deal with the problem of the Roma people as well. Within the frame of an IOM-University of Pécs cooperation, he developed and launched the “Building healthy Roma communities” project.
In 2006, the University of Pécs Medical School decided to incorporate migration-health into its training and research programs as a new interdisciplinary field of health sciences. Prof. Dr. Péter Németh, dean of the Medical School, invited Dr. István Szilárd to realize and coordinate this new, innovative direction, and he has returned to his home university after twelve years of working abroad.
Currently, migration-health training programs are being conducted as both regular and optional courses in three languages (English, German, and Hungarian), and each year, hundreds of medical students from more than 50 countries are focusing on this humanitarian challenge. In 2018, an innovative postgraduate training program will start: Specialist in Migration-Health. A consortium of six European universities, coordinated by the University of Pécs, has developed it as a European Union program.
The WHO European Office highly acknowledges the achievement of the Pécs team, and they have been designated a WHO collaborating center for migration-health training and research.
In 2016, Dr. István Szilárd was appointed as a member of the coordination committee of the WHO Migration-health Strategy and Action Plan in Europe.
In 2017, the European Parliament’s special jury decided to decorate him with the European Citizen’s Prize.


Under construction
Please send us information on individual, national or regional activities.