WMA Council Meeting In Montevideo, Uruguay

The 150th Council meeting of the World Medical Association was held in Montevideo, Uruguay from April 16 to 19. The following decisions were made:

Cloning and Human Dignity

A new WMA policy statement on cloning is to be considered at the association's next meeting in Ottawa, Canada in October. It was agreed that the WMA should seek to lead world medical opinion on trying to develop a worldwide medical consensus on the ethical and legal issues posed by cloning. A working group of national medical associations, headed by the Israel medical association, will meet at the American Medical Association's annual meeting in Chicago in June. The group will consider the current state of scientific development with a view to producing a policy document to educate doctors and the public. This paper will include recommendations on when and where legal bans may be necessary and when and where legal regulation is appropriate. It will also include discussion of the principal ethical issues arising out of the scientific developments.

The Right of the Child to Health Care

A proposed new Declaration was approved by Council and will now be submitted to the WMA's 50th General Assembly in Ottawa in October for adoption.

Declaration of Helsinki

It was agreed that instead of continuing work on the proposed revision of the Declaration of Helsinki on human experimentation, the original Declaration should be circulated to national medical association members with a request for specific amendments. These proposed amendments will be considered at the WMA's meeting in Ottawa. It was agreed that experts should also be consulted.

Nuclear Weapons

A new Declaration pledging the WMA to work for the elimination of nuclear weapons was approved by Council and will be considered by the General Assembly for adoption.

The Medical Workforce

Concern was expressed about the imbalance between the supply and demand for physicians in different parts of the world. While a shortage of doctors in some areas created difficulties in providing sufficient medical services for the population, other areas suffered from the consequences of medical unemployment or underemployment. The Council approved a new Resolution encouraging regional consideration of workforce issues with a view to holding an international conference at an appropriate time.

Improved Investment in Health care

A proposed Resolution about the need to secure adequate resources for health care systems to meet the basic needs of their populations was approved by Council and will now be submitted to the General Assembly for adoption.


Following a debate on the ethical and legal issues surrounding the growth of telemedicine, it was decided to circulate to all national medical association members a new paper for consideration.

Human Rights

The British Medical Association agreed to set up a database on human rights activities undertaken by national medical associations and other organisations. It also offered to develop a questionnaire for circulation to member associations about their activities. This will lead to a series of actions which members will undertake to promote human rights in their own and other countries.

New Members

An application for membership from the Medical Association of the Dominican Republic was approved by Council and will now be submitted to the General Assembly for acceptance.

Applications have been received from the medical associations of Zimbabwe, Bosnia and Bolivia and these are being considered.

Other issues discussed for further work were:

  • rights of the unborn
  • patenting of medical processes and procedures
  • joint statement with pharmacists on the use of medicines
  • working relations between physicians and pharmacists
  • controlled prescription and delivery of heroin to addicts
  • the use of intellectual material obtained in an unethical manner

It has been decided that future meetings of the WMA Council and committee meetings should be open to the press. Invitations will be sent out later for the Annual General Assembly in Ottawa which will be held from October 14 to 18.