World Medical Association Council Meeting

130 delegates from more than 30 national medical associations attended the 176th Council session of the World Medical Association in Berlin. They discussed a number of issues, including the following:

The Association agreed to continue its discussions with the Chinese Medical Association about the use of organs for transplantation from executed prisoners in China. Delegates heard a report about discussions held recently in Bejing between a WMA delegation and representatives from the Chinese Medical Association. Dr Yoram Blachar, who led the WMA delegation, said that although differences between the two sides remained, China was moving in the right direction. He was particularly encouraged by the new legislation in China prohibiting the trade in organs. The meeting agreed that talks should continue with a view to the Chinese Medical Association stating its commitment to WMA policy on organ transplantation and consent. A further report will be made to the WMA at its Assembly meeting in Copenhagen in October.

South America
A resolution was passed expressing concern that patients in certain Latin American and Caribbean countries are being put at risk by unregulated medical practices. Delegates called attention to reported arrangements between the Cuban government and some Latin American and Caribbean governments to supply Cuban health workers as physicians to these countries, bypassing systems, established to protect patients, to verify physicians' credentials and competence. The meeting condemned any actions by governments in practices that subvert or bypass accepted standards of medical credentialing and urged governments in Latin America and the Caribbean to respect the WMA International Code of Medical Ethics.

The meeting reaffirmed its condemnation of the genocide in Dafur and called on all its national medical association members to urge their governments to take immediate action to stop the mass killings, expulsions, rape and destruction. The Council approved a resolution calling on national medical associations to raise the issue with the World Health Organisation at this week's World Health Assembly.

Dr Edward Hill, chair of the WMA Council, said: 'This terrible conflict has claimed 200,000 deaths in four years as a result of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The World Medical Association, as an international medical organisation committed to the protection of health and human rights for all, has frequently expressed its support for human rights in statements and today we are again urging national medical associations around the world to press their governments to intervene now to stop the mass killings and to protect the health and safety of refugees in the region.'

Other issues discussed included:

  • Reducing dietary sodium intake
  • Telemedicine
  • Stem cell research
  • Noise pollution
  • Resistance to antimicrobial drugs


  • Dr Edward Hill (USA) was elected Chair of Council
  • Dr K. Iwasa (Japan) was re-elected Vice Chair
  • Prof. Joerg-Dietrich Hoppe (Germany) was re-elected Treasurer
  • Mr James Johnson (UK) was elected Chair of the Finance and Planning Committee
  • Dr Eva Bågenholm (Sweden) was re-elected Chair of the Medical Ethics Committee
  • Dr Gomes Do Amaral was elected Chair of the Socio-Medical Committee