A great man is one who collects knowledge the way a bee collects honey and uses it to help people overcome the difficulties they endure - hunger, ignorance and disease!
- Nikola Tesla

Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.
- Franklin Roosevelt

While their territory has been devastated and their homes despoiled, the spirit of the Serbian people has not been broken.
- Woodrow Wilson

Tomislav Prvulovic

A Life Dedicated to Helping Others

Call him the modern-day Albert Schweitzer - on the front lines, fighting tropical diseases at the source for more than a quarter-century. He has been shot at 15 times in seven different wars, yet has never retreated, and once played a key role in war negotiation settlements between Somalia and Ethiopia.

Professor Tomislav Prvulovic MD, MPH, Ph.D., born in 1936 in a town called Jezero in the former Yugoslavia, has expertise in international public health, bio-terrorism and infectious and tropical diseases. But what sets him apart from conventional doctors is the way he has applied that knowledge.

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"Albert Schweitzer is the only [western] medical doctor that has spent more time than me in the [world's] poorest countries. I loved it. I loved the people," he says in an interview with The Suit Magazine. "Send me where the problem is; send me where the action is. I don't like the blah, blah, blah."

During the first half of his career Prvulovic got a taste of traditional medicine. "I was teaching in Houston but it was boring. It was Texas guys just thinking of Texas, so I joined Flying Doctors of Africa (AMREF) in 1987," he says. "[At one point] the Minister of Health in Somalia needed a public health assistant, and so I did that. Another time I was asked to speak to the first Congress for AIDS in Tanzania."

"I went to the Congo to handle an Ebola epidemic, and Zaire, the rape capital of the world. I experienced, in vivo, the Ebola virus, the number two bio-weapon in the world," he states. "With the Ebola virus everyone dies, even doctors. I told the police, 'Don't let anyone in or out, including me. Take care not to touch cots or urine.' They just had to follow basic steps."

His experience with bioterrorism viruses is invaluable. "I am now the only professor in the U.S. teaching bioterrorism," he explains. "I published a book for the Pentagon - how to survive in environments with those diseases. It's important right now in Afghanistan. I told them, 'Don't eat cold cuts, you have to see [meat] prepared freshly.'"

Other biological weapons he has faced include small pox and the plague. From 1992 to 1996 he was the World Health Organization's (WHO) Public Health Administrator. "The WHO sent me to handle the [world's] last smallpox epidemic, in Yugoslavia," he says. It was the WHO's first victory in completely eradicating a disease, and Prvulovic received a medal for his efforts. "Small pox is the number one bio-weapon, because it's easy to transmit by droplets. The number three weapon is the Plague. I went to Burma, with 50 million people under the rule of a military regime, when it was hit by the Plague," he recalls.

Prvulovic is also an educator. ""I love when doctors listen to what I have to say. I don't lecture. I walk around during my presentations. I teach tropical diseases at all the medical schools in New Jersey and New York," he says. He is not satisfied, however, with the complacent attitude of many of today's medical professionals. With exasperation in his voice, he says, "Doctors [treating tropical diseases] forgot what to do; they forgot their Hippocratic Oath. I told them, 'you're killing people,'" he said, adding, "I did it the old [fashioned] way. I used a gun to inject 500 people [per] hour with the smallpox vaccine." One of his sons, Misha, died at the age of three. "After my son died, I started working with children," he says. He has been a consulting professor for UNICEF on the Community Health and Financing Project in Myanmar. The accolades have followed Prvulovic's prolific body of work. "[In June of 2009] American University in North Carolina and Cambridge University nominated me for the Nobel Peace Prize. I didn't get it, but it's still in play. If I win the Nobel Prize [of two million dollars], I'll go into the field and give the money to children," he promises.

"I've been given the International Peace Prize, I have been Man of the Year, [I was part of] the Great Minds of the 20th Century, I made the Cambridge University list of the top 100 doctors in the world, and I was given the Silver Medal by the Pope for helping poor orphans [in Asia and Africa]," he recounts. But despite all of those honors, Prvulovic remains humble. "I asked my wife, 'Am I that great?' She said, 'You forget what to buy at the grocery store!'" he laughs.

His family is a central part of his life. "My son Tomi T. Prvulovic, MD, was voted one of the leading physicians in the world by the International Association of Anesthesiologists," he says with pride. Tomi is a board-certified physician in anesthesiology and pain medicine whose practice, the Healthspine and Aneshesia Institute, specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery. He is an expert in the use of hydrosurgery, according to www.healthspinemd. com. He was also featured in a cover story in M.D. News. "When my other son Aleksandar, an internal medicine M.D., went to work at a V.A. hospital in Arkansas, it went from being the worst to being the best," he says. "My sons watched me helping patients, and that's why they are good doctors."

He becomes reflective as the interview comes to a close. "Medicine is not about 'next, next, next.' I talk to patients. I help those who are suffering. Empathy is important. I once worked at Mount Kilimanjaro with a traditional healer. When he walked by everyone saluted him," he recalls with a hint of awe in his voice. "Mother Theresa is my idol. I also met Nelson Mandela and the first Dali Lama." Professor Tomislav Prvulovic is a selfless human being who has devoted his life to protecting others in the harshest of medical environments. His rewards have been heartfelt, not reflected in a bank account. "I live on a pension. I didn't do my work for remuneration."

By Gary Stevens
from The Suit


SA

 

People Directory

Teresa A.H. Djuric

Brig. Gen. Teresa A.H. Djuric is Deputy Director, Space and Intelligence Office, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C. General Djuric leads the Under Secretary's strategic planning and programming for defense space programs valued at $12 billion. She provides guidance and oversight of the architecture studies leading to the development and procurement of future defense space programs. She provides principal support to the Under Secretary's role as the focal point for space matters and in coordinating activities across the whole of government space enterprise.

General Djuric was commissioned in 1983 through Officer Training School. She has operated space systems at three space wings and Headquarters 14th Air Force. In 2004, she deployed to Southwest Asia as Director of Space Forces for operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. She has commanded at the squadron, group, wing and education center levels, and has served on staffs at the Air Force Personnel Center, U.S. Pacific Command, Headquarters U.S. Air Force and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Prior to her current assignment, she was Commander, Jeanne M. Holm Center for Officer Accessions and Citizen Development, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.

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Publishing

Christ - The Alpha and Omega

The Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Western America is pleased to announce the publication of an outstanding book by Bishop Athanasius Yevtich, a disciple of the great twentieth-century theologian Archimandrite Justin Popovich. Bishop Athanasius' thought combines adherence to the teachings of the Church Fathers with a vibrant faith and a profound experience of Christ in the Church.

Christ - The Alpha and Omega is the first of a planned collection of works of contemporary Serbian theologians. It is an anthology of Bishop Athanasius' articles which have appeared in Serbian, Greek, French, English and Russian. Focusing on themes central to Christian patristic Triadology, Ecclesiology and Anthropology, the book reveals the ultimate purpose of man and the universe, and speaks of how each of us can realize this purpose within the divine-human community of the Orthodox Church. Bishop Athanasius reminds us that the God-man Jesus Christ is the Beginning and the End of all things, and that we must seek our own end, goal, and fulfillment in Him.

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