Physicians and Patients urged to fight Barriers to Quality Patient Care

Physicians across the world have been urged by the new President of the World Medical Association to unite among themselves and with their patients to 'tear down the barriers' that are preventing the delivery of quality medical care.

Dr Yank Coble, an endocrinologist from Florida, USA, who was installed as President of the WMA at the association's annual General Assembly in Tokyo today, said in his presidential speech:

'Everywhere I go around the world, physicians are being subjected to even greater pressures, subjected to forces that make it more and more difficult to live out the credo of our calling. The elimination of patient choice and the erosion of appropriate physician autonomy puts the sacred physician-patient relationship in jeopardy'.

Dr Coble added: 'We must make sure our patients understand how the problems we face as physicians undermine our ability to deliver that care' and he added 'We will encourage and lead patients and other partners to stand beside us. We will tear down the barriers that stand between us and our patients and between us and quality medical care'.

In his speech to more than 400 delegates from 40 countries, Dr Coble spoke of caring, ethics and science as the three fundamental, enduring traditions of the medical profession and said that it fell to the WMA to help restore pride, passion, enthusiasm and optimism among physicians wherever they practiced and wherever they were challenged.

'Politicians and governments tend to think of medical care as a cost - an expense. But we know that medical care and research is an investment,a value - one with a tremendous return.

'In some countries, there is a need for basics such as clean water, edible food and reliable electricity. But in these places they still know and respect their doctor. Our patients value medical research and innovation. They value medical care. They do not want their care undermined or withheld'.