World Medical Association Urges Doctors To Be On The Alert For Effects Of Chemical And Biological Attacks

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The Council of the World Medical Association, the global representative body for physicians, today called on governments, health authorities and physicians to acknowledge and act on the extreme danger of chemical and biological weapons.

Dr. Richard Corlin, President of the American Medical Association, expressed concern at the WMA meeting in France that future terrorist attacks throughout the world are unlikely to follow the same pattern as previous events. He told the meeting: "We are deeply concerned about the possibility of future terrorist attacks making use of chemical and / or biological weapons and we need a globally co-ordinated effort to prepare for such an event".

The American Medical Association submitted a proposed policy to the WMA calling for the establishment of an international consortium of medical and public health leaders to monitor this threat, help train physicians and other health professionals in response methods and to build up adequate supplies of vaccines and pharmaceuticals.

The WMA meeting was attended by Dr. David Heymann, World Health Organization Executive Director, who encouraged greater collaboration between the WHO and national medical associations worldwide. He also emphasized the need to consider strong public health as one of the cornerstones of national and international security and the need for more interaction between the health and military and defence departments for more effective preparedness against deliberate use of chemical and biological agents.

Dr Delon Human, secretary general of the WMA, said that the association was developing a communication network between individual physicians and national medical associations to more effectively respond to potential future events. Physicians were being encouraged to be alert to the occurrence of unexplained illnesses and deaths in all communities, and to communicate this information to the local or national health authorities.