WMA calls on Iran to Respect Code of Medical Ethics

(18.10.2009) New Delhi: The World Medical Association has urged national medical associations to speak out in support of the rights of patients and physicians in Iran and has called on Iran to respect the International Code of Medical Ethics.

At the WMA’s annual General Assembly in Delhi, delegates from almost 50 national medical associations were told that physicians in Iran had reported unsettling practices of injured people being taken to prisons without adequate medical treatment or the consensus of the attending physicians. There were also reports of physicians being hindered from treating patients, as well as concern about the veracity of documentation related to the death of patients, and of physicians being forced to support clinically inaccurate documentation.

Concern was expressed about reports of corpses and badly injured political and religious prisoners being admitted to hospitals with signs of brutal torture, including sexual abuse.

WMA representatives urged Iran to respect the WMA International Code of Medical Ethics, which states that ‘physicians shall be dedicated to providing competent medical service in full professional and moral independence, with compassion and respect for human dignity.’

They also reaffirmed WMA policy on:

  • Guidelines for Physicians Concerning Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in Relation to Detention and Imprisonment, which prohibits physicians from participating in, or even being present during the practice of torture or other forms of cruel or inhuman or degrading procedures;

  • the Rights of the Patient, under which whenever legislation, government action or any other administration or institution denies patients the right to medical care, physicians should pursue appropriate means to assure or to restore it;

  • the Responsibility of Physicians in the Documentation and Denunciation of Acts of Torture or Cruel or Inhuman or Degrading Treatment.

Dr. Frank Montgomery, from the German Medical Association, who raised the issue at the meeting, said:
‘Physicians serve people not governments. They must be able to fulfill their duties without government harassment. Physicians will not participate in torture or degrading treatment. They are the “whistleblowers” of such criminal acts committed by governments. I call upon the Iranian Government to reaffirm the position that independent, free medicine is a cornerstone of democracy’.