World Medical Association Council
(11.04.2011) At its Council meeting in Sydney, Australia (April 7-9), attended by delegates from more than 30 national medical associations (NMAs), the World Medical Association discussed a number of issues, including the following:
Oral reports were received from Japanese and New Zealand representatives about their recent earthquakes and delegates debated the need for the WMA to provide policy support for information exchange and learning for NMAs on disaster preparedness and medical response.
Japanese physicians were absent from the meeting, but Mr Hisashi Tsuruoka, a staff member from the Japan Medical Association, updated the Council on the extent of the damage in his country and said he believed that Japan would recover in a much shorter period than they were currently expecting.
Dr. Otmar Kloiber, Secretary General of the WMA, reported that the WMA, together with other health professions, would be seeking to raise the awareness of health professionals, patients and governments of the need to reduce the global NCD burden through health promotion, disease prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, and advocating for research and finance.
As part of its activities, the WMA Council would be proposing new Statements on Social Determinants of Health and the Global Burden of Chronic Disease at its General Assembly in Montevideo, Uruguay in October.
PHYSICIANS AND ARMED CONFLICTS
The meeting debated what more was needed to protect physicians and other medical personnel during times of armed conflict. It agreed to recommend to the General Assembly that there should be an international systematic mechanism for reporting and documenting acts of violence against medical personnel and facilities. And it was agreed that all attacks must also be properly investigated and those responsible for the violations brought to justice.
The meeting debated the use of social media networks by physicians, with delegates highlighting both the risks and opportunities. Several NMAs reported that they had already produced guidelines. It was decided to set up a working party, including the junior doctors' network of the WMA, to examine the issue and produce a policy for the organisation.
PHYSICIANS' NON INVOLVEMENT IN TORTURE
Discussion took place about developing a reporting mechanism for auditing states' adherence to the Declaration of Tokyo on guidelines for physicians' non involvement in torture. Delegates suggested that NMAs should offer support for physicians in difficult situations, including helping individuals to report violations of patients' health rights and physicians' professional ethics in custodial settings.
It was agreed that new policy documents be forwarded to the General Assembly for approval on:
- End of life care
- Revision of the Declaration of Edinburgh on prison conditions and the spread of tuberculosis
- Dr. Mukesh Haikerwal (Australia) was elected Chair of Council.
- Dr. Masami Ishii (Japan) was re-elected Vice Chair of Council.
- Dr. Frank Ulrich Montgomery (Germany) was elected Treasurer.
- Dr. Leonid Eidelman (Israel) was elected Chair of the Finance and Planning Committee.
- Dr. Torunn Janbu (Norway) was re-elected Chair of the Medical Ethics Committee.
- Sir Michael Marmot (UK) was elected Chair of the Socio-Medical Affairs Commitee.