WMA Council Meeting

(28.04.2014)  A WMA Council meeting was held in Tokyo, Japan (April 24-26) and attended by delegates from more than 30 national medical associations. The WMA was honoured to receive a visit from the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr Shinzō Abe, who spoke to the meeting about the longevity model of health care in Japan and the need to enable elderly people to live at home. He stressed the importance of universal health care and highlighted in particular the need for primary care.

Delegates discussed a number of issues, including the following:

Africa Project

Dr. Margaret Mungherera, President of the WMA, reported on the African Medical Initiative she has been pursuing since becoming President. She reminded delegates that Africa was the continent with some of the lowest health indices in the world. This was largely because of weak health systems, poor universal health coverage and access leading to bad outcomes. She said the initiative was based on the fact that only 20 of the 54 national medical associations in Africa were members of the WMA. She wanted to see not only more African NMAs join the WMA, but also increased participation by those NMAs that were members. To achieve this it was necessary to strengthen the capacity of African NMAs in medical education, continuing professional education and national health policies.

Databases and Clinical Trials

The Council agreed that a work group should continue consideration of an updated policy document setting out principles for the ethical use of data in health databases and human biological material in biobanks. Delegates from Europe pointed out that this was particularly urgent in view of the European Union legislation replacing the concept of individual consent by broad consent. After Dr. Otmar Kloiber, Secretary General of the WMA, stressed the importance of this issue the Council agreed that a draft Declaration should be circulated to national medical associations for comment and further consideration at the WMA’s General Assembly in Durban, South Africa in October.

Air Pollution

Increasing concern about the negative health effects of air pollution around the world prompted the Council to set up a new work group to examine the issue and come up with urgent recommendations. The Council received a request from the Austrian Medical Chamber to issue new policy on the prevention of air pollution and vehicle emissions on the basis that air pollution reduced life quality for millions of people worldwide, causing a large burden of disease, as well as economic loss and costs in the health systems.

Physicians Wellbeing

Proposals from the WMA’s Junior Doctors Network for a series of measures to improve physicians’ wellbeing were welcomed and it was agreed to set up a wider group to build on these recommendations and produce a comprehensive policy.

Declaration of Helsinki

It was agreed that the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Helsinki this year should be celebrated at a special ceremony in Helsinki on November 11 this year. A programme will be announced later.

Junior Doctors Network

Following the meeting, the Junior Doctors Network met to discuss its future strategy. More than 30 junior doctors from 12 countries attended and discussed plans to hold the JDN’s first meeting of junior doctors from Africa in Durban during the WMA General Assembly in October.

Other issues discussed included:

Millennium Development Goals post 2015

Aesthetic Medical Treatment

Health and the Environment

Violence against Women


Person Centred Medicine

Recruitment of Physicians

Solitary Confinement