World Medical Association council meeting

At its 167th Council session in Divonne-les-Bains, France (May 13-15) the World Medical Association discussed the following issues:

Declaration of Helsinki
The meeting decided that there should be no amendment to paragraph 30 of the declaration - which states that 'At the conclusion of the study, every patient entered into the study should be assured of access to the best
proven prophylactic, diagnostic and therapeutic methods identified by the study' - but that a Note of Clarification be published stating that 'The WMA hereby reaffirms its position that it is necessary during the study planningprocess to identify post-trial access by study participants to prophylactic, diagnostic and therapeutic procedures identified as beneficial in the study or access to other appropriate care. Post-trial access arrangements or other care must be described in the study protocol so the ethical review committee may consider such arrangements during its review'.

The meeting approved a statement expressing its concern about reports of the collapse of the health care system of Zimbabwe. It declared that the acute shortage of physicians and the worsening humanitarian crisis was being exacerbated by the HIV/AIDS epidemic and it decided to mandate its leadership to investigate the situation and to take appropriate action.

Relationship Between Physicians and Commercial Enterprises
Further debate took place on new ethical guidelines for physicians and this discussion will continue at the WMA's next meeting in October.

The Council decided to recommend to the Assembly in October a proposed Statement on Water and Health Care, an amendment to the WMA Regulations in Time of Armed Conflict and a proposed resolution on quality improvement in medical education.

Separate press releases were issued during the meeting on:

  • SARS
  • the death sentences passed by a Libyan court on a doctor and five nurses
  • the announcement by the secretary general that he is standing down later this year

Dr Henry Haddad, from the Canadian Medical Association, was elected chairman of the Socio-Medical Committee, and Dr John Nelson, President elect of the American Medical Association, was elected chairman of the Finance and Planning Committee.