New Secretary General Takes Over At World Medical Association

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Dr. Delon Human, a 35 year old family physician from Pretoria in South Africa, has taken up his post as Secretary General of the World Medical Association. He succeeds Dr. Ian Field who has retired after four years in the job.

Dr. Human, a member of the Federal Council of the Medical Association of South Africa and a Past President of this Association's Gauteng North Branch, qualified as a family practitioner in 1985. After spending time at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, England doing research in Paediatric Endocrinology he gained two further Master degrees in Family Medicine and a Diploma in Child Health. He then practiced as a family doctor in Pretoria, during which time he also set up his own consultancy business in health care management.

Commenting on his new job, Dr. Human said: "I am delighted to have taken on such an exciting and challenging task. The World Medical Association sees a major new role for itself in the years ahead."

The association is very concerned about the growing trend where the health care needs of patients are often secondary to the cost of the services. The financial constraints facing health care providers are complex and real, but it is abhorrent for governments to spend so much more on areas of defence than on the health care needs of our patients.

"I have watched a small baby die in my hands of measles, which could have been prevented by a single injection delivered in an effective health care system. The deep sense of hurt, and the painful knowledge that we as physicians could, and should, have made a difference in that small baby?s life, will remain with me for the rest of my life. I believe that the WMA is uniquely placed to make a difference for the patients of the world, and I am fully committed to serve our profession and our patients."

The WMA is also becoming increasingly concerned about the trend where physicians are put under pressure to perform unethical medical tasks, and where their basic human rights are violated. Patients do not have free access to health care services in many parts of the world, and doctors are not always allowed to provide patients with the care they need. For instance, it is impossible for a male gynaecologist to treat female patients in Afghanistan. Female physicians are not allowed to practice in that country. A previous Secretary-General of the Nigerian Medical Association is in jail for political reasons, and the government there refuses to supply the reasons for the detention. So there are many other examples of human rights violations, and for this reason the WMA has requested the UN to consider the appointment of a Rapporteur on the protection of human rights in the health care field. The WMA will also focus on these problems as an organisation in the next few years.

Dr. Human can be contacted at the WMA head office in Ferney-Voltaire, France on +33 450 40 75 75, where the staff will put you in contact with him wherever he is. He also has a personal E-mail address: