Service to Mankind
Dr. Michael Rekart, Class of 1965
The phrase “I’m going to change the world,” sounds like a movie punch line or the euphemism of an optimistic liberal arts graduate student, but for Dr. Michael Rekart it is reality. His decades-long commitment to provide medical assistance in low-income countries developed during his professional career, but he credits Delphos St. John’s for instilling in him the sense of community responsibility that gives him the drive to help others.
After graduating from St. John’s in 1965, Dr. Rekart earned an honors bachelor’s degree in Classical Languages and Medical Sciences from Xavier University in 1969 and then a Doctor of Medicine from The Ohio State University in 1973. After training in Internal Medicine he completed subspecialty training in California as an Infectious Disease Fellow, but his education did not stop there. London, England, was his next destination and it is there where he received his Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. During this course, he was introduced to international health and development and became aware of the impact of tropical infectious diseases in impoverished countries.
In 1981-82 he was the Director for Llamba Association, a Colorado voluntary relief agency based in Es Showak, Sudan, which provided medical services for five Eritrean refugee camps. While directing Llamba, Dr. Rekart initiated several important new programs for the refugees, the local Sudanese and nomadic tribes in the area, including childhood immunizations, a feeding program for malnourished children and a massive vaccination campaign in conjunction with the World Health Organization during a meningitis outbreak. Working in an area with unclean water, sporadic electricity and sweltering temperatures of 115 degrees changed Rekart’s life and made him resolute in his commitment to global health.
In 1996, Rekart was a Co-Chair for the XI International Conference on AIDS in Vancouver, Canada. At the event he met with the delegation from Vietnam and pledged to assess the country’s situation and provide assistance. The commitment led to the inception of Café Hy Vong, the first Vietnamese HIV/AIDS prevention project sponsored by the Canadian International Development Agency.
Currently Dr. Rekart leads the expanded Vietnam HIV/AIDS/STI Community Clinics Network Project in four southern Vietnam provinces and there is opportunity to expand. He is also the Director of the British Columbia Provincial Health Services Authority Global Health Program, which provides assistance in Uganda, China and India.
Earlier this year, Rekart traveled to Peru with his son, Edward, in a father-son program organized to build a kindergarten in a poor village. While there, Rekart conducted clinics and was inspired to partner with a local community organization to develop a research proposal to establish community kitchens as a cost-effective and sustainable method to combat malnutrition in children.
Rekart is world-renown for his humanitarian efforts but he says it all started at home.
“Both the school and the parish helped me to realize how fortunate I was to grow up in Delphos and in the United States. This in turn has driven me to help others as often as I can,” he said. He added that he is humbled and honored by his induction into the St. John’s Hall of Fame, especially since he is the first from his graduating class.
Rekart’s “real” job is in Vancouver, Canada, where he works to better the health conditions in vulnerable populations. He is the Director of HIV Control and the Vancouver General Hospital Tropical Medicine Clinic. He achieved the rank of Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of British Columbia in 2001.