World Medical Association Praised For Human Rights Work

Dr Beko Ransome-Kuti, the former president of the Nigerian Medical Association, has warmly praised the work of the World Medical Association in helping to bring about his release from prison in Nigeria earlier this year.

Speaking publicly about his ordeal for the first time at the WMA's recent annual General Assembly in Ottawa, Dr Ransome Kuti said that international organisations like the WMA had a great role to play both in supporting health professionals in danger by speaking out forcefully and promptly and by mobilising their members to do the same.

He said it was no coincidence that in 1995 the military government in Nigeria held back from proscribing the Nigerian Medical Association, which had remained the only professional organisation that the Government had been unable to 'incapacitate'. In April of that year the WMA president, Professor Priscilla Kincaid-Smith, was a special guest at the Nigerian Medical Association conference. "Her timely vigorous protest and condemnation of the action of the authorities certainly restrained the military junta".

Dr Ransome-Kuti was released from prison in June this year after serving three years of a 15 year gaol sentence on charges of conspiracy to overthrow the Nigerian Government.

In his address to the WMA, Dr Ransome-Kuti said: "It is often the case that governments who show no hesitation in abusing the independence and integrity of health professionals are the same who care very little about the health care standards in their country. It is therefore not surprising that these high government officials obtain expensive medical treatment for themselves and their families in foreign and distant lands using the resources that should have been applied in improving the health facilities in their own countries in the first place".