By Professor Norman Sartorius
Professor Vlado Jukic was a man of value. Compassionate and courageous he was a friend whom you could trust, a medical doctor who was very good at providing treatments to his patients, a skillful and inspired manager who recreated a well functioning hospital from the of set of delapidated buildings with a bad reputation which he was given to direct some 25 years ago, a well respected president of the society of psychiatrists in his country, a charming and generous host, modest at all times although he had created much of which he could be proud.
He died after a short merciless illness a few months before retirement and a few weeks after the official opening of the new buildings of the department of forensic psychiatry which was one of the areas of psychiatry in which he excelled. On the opening day he told me about his plans for work after retirement which was to be marked by the same concern for people, by continuing efforts to help those disadvantaged by disease or its consequences, by action to protect rights of people with mental illness and by striving for technical excellence in psychiatry - all dominant features of his work over many years. He did not seem to see retirement as an empty time but as a new chapter of life, with new and interesting challenges which he was ready to face.
Professor Jukic has influenced the development of psychiatry and of mental health services in Croatia over the past 30 years more than anyone else. In addition to running the largest psychiatric hospital and the foremost forensic psychiatric department in the country he was an advisor to the government in all matters concerning mental health, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Zagreb, a member of the Croatian Medical Academies of Medicine and of Education, a regular member of groups that have been given the task of creating or improving mental health care and a leader in the fight against discrimination of people with mental illness. The Day of the Rights of people with mental illness which is legally recognized as an annual event was an expression of that effort as were many of his publications and presentations.
With his demise we have lost a charming and knowledgeable colleague, a friend and a fighter for whatever could improve the fate of people with mental illness and of ourselves. Psychiatry in Croatia loses a champion who was ready and willing to continue working on all subjects that could advance mental health and our profession. The World Psychiatric Association lost one of its leaders and society as a whole lost a valuable member who did far more than most others for its progress.