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Italian Doctor

By Sgt. Michael Maddox
First published in
SFOR Informer #99, October 25, 2000

Rogatica - For many people living in BiH, medical insurance is a thing of the past. This leaves them with large expenses if they are in need of medical care or medications to treat illnesses.
To help ease this burden, 2Lt. Stefano Leccardi, a doctor for the Italian Army in Rogatica, carries on the tradition of providing medical care for people in the surrounding area as well as medications when possible.
"I came here, following the previous medical doctor. He was a great person because he put up the medical assistance for the people here in Rogatica and many other medical centers in the area. He was giving medicines and seeing people here," said Leccardi. "He said that I would have much to do here. He was right. Sometimes I see about 30 persons a week who come here."
While many of the people suffer from high blood pressure and arthritis, Leccardi said he has treated a variety of other medical problems.
"One of the more serious things I have seen here was this woman whose upper lip was completely swollen with a big herpes," he explained. "I gave her some medicine from Italy and it was really effective. A week later I saw her and she was much better."
"Some of the strangest things I have seen have been in the villages. A lot of times they use natural medicines," said Leccardi. "One time I went to one of the small villages where I met this young man, 31 years old. He said he had a sore spot on his leg. I asked him to show it to me.
"He had two bandannas tying down a leaf over the abscess. I told him I would give him antibiotics, but I asked him why he had this leaf on his injury. He said it was a special leaf. It was very surprising, I didn't expect it at all," he added.
Leccardi said all of his work in the community gives him a sense of accomplishment and appreciation from the people.
"Many people have nothing, but they still bring me gifts for helping them," he said. "One lady has just the clothes on her back, but every time I see her she brings me a chocolate bar. Things like that, people who really appreciate what I am doing, makes this worth while.
"I have a relationship with them. I am beginning to know them. Sometimes they ask me to come back just to pay them a visit," he said.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: Italy
Humanitarian Aid