WMA Support For Korean Medical Association

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World Medical Association support for the Korean Medical Association in its dispute with the Korean government was declared today by Dr Delon Human, secretary general of the WMA.

Speaking during a Korean medical forum in Seoul, Dr Human defended the independence, integrity and rights of physicians and patients in Korea and said he hoped that the current conflict could be rapidly and peacefully resolved.

He told the forum that the WMA had sent messages of support to the Korean Medical Association, and letters to the Korean authorities urging them to act fairly in their deliberation with the KMA in helping to solve the dispute.

"We hope that the KMA and WMA's actions have ultimately served the best interests of the Korean patients.

"There are many aspects of the problem in Korea which are present in other parts of the world. Most important of all, I am sure that what is really at stake in Korea is the right of the patient to have access to high quality professional care, high quality medicine and high quality tertiary medical care.

"Let us correct the misperception that the unrest was merely due to money - the remuneration received by physicians and pharmacists. Let us together help focus the world's attention on what is really at stake here - the development of a sustainable health care system, which provides for adequate health care resources for patients and provides at least reasonable working and remuneration conditions for physicians and other health professionals."

Dr Human said that the liability and accountability of the physician was a crucially important aspect of the debate about which health professionals should be responsible for the care of patients.

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"Currently, physicians are mainly held accountable for care provided to patients. I believe that this principle should be extended to all health professionals who are in any way involved in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with illnesses. This would level the playing field, especially as more and more of the physician's traditional scope of practice is being taken over or delegated to other health professionals.

"I would like to urge the KMA to continue their efforts to make sure that Korean patients are provided with the most appropriate health care services, and that their rights are protected at all times, even when they are cared for by non-physicians. As physicians we are the primary advocates and partners for our patients, and all our actions should be guided by these principles.

"I would like to end with a renewed call to all of our colleagues around the world to practice medicine in an ethical manner. The professional activities and the conduct of physicians must always be within the bounds of the professional code of ethics or the principles of medical ethics governing physicians in each country. Let us always practice medicine with the following words in mind: 'The health of my patient will be my first consideration' ".'