New WMA President focuses on Impartiality of Physicians

(10.10.2014) The impartiality of physicians at a time when the world is going through a dramatic increase of armed conflicts was emphasized today by Dr. Xavier Deau in his inaugural speech as new President of the World Medical Association.

Speaking at the WMA's annual Assembly in Durban, South Africa, Dr. Deau, a general practitioner in Epinal, Eastern France, and President of the International and European Affairs Delegation of the French Medical Council, said:

‘Our current world is going through a dramatic increase of armed conflicts in which the values of our association are permanently violated. Impartiality remains an inescapable ethical value, as much in our schools as in our administrations and our hospitals. This impartiality is the guarantee for a deep respect for all cultural differences and the negation of all kinds of fundamentalism.

‘That is why I am asking everyone to be peacemakers by strictly observing these values within your Associations, your Governments but also towards each of your patients.'

Dr. Deau, who was inaugurated as President in front of physician delegates from more than 40 national medical associations, spoke about his life as a physician in Epinal since 1976. He said he worked in a socially disadvantaged area, where he had founded a multi-professional, multidisciplinary consulting room to meet the specific needs of socially disadvantaged households.

He said that during his year as WMA President he would strive to keep on positioning the WMA as the promoter of medical ethical values at their highest level, and thus ensuring health equity. One of them was the independence of the doctor, which should be respected by political, administrative, military as well as religious authorities.

The independence of the doctor's decision was indispensable to the doctor-patient relationship and was the patient's best option for impartial and independent care.

He said he would also focus on the importance of professional secrecy and patient consent in all circumstances, including during armed conflicts, as well as promotion of a high level and quality education of doctors and the protection of patients' personal data, at this time of new technology.