World Medical Association 159th Council Meeting

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The 159th WMA Council meeting was held in Divonne-les-Bains, France, from May 3 to 7 2001.

Support for Turkish Doctors

Representatives from more than 30 countries attending the meeting signed a letter of support to Turkish doctors in their struggle over human rights. The letter was written to the president of the Turkish medical association, Dr Fusun Sayek, in a show of solidarity with Turkish physicians.
The letter declared: "We have been concerned by reports of torture in prisons and the harassment and persecution of physicians who have helped torture victims. As the global representative voice of physicians, we applaud the efforts of your association to stand for the rights of patients and physicians.
To demonstrate our solidarity with you against the evils of torture and human rights abuses in all parts of the world, please find an attached list of signatures signed by all the participants at this council session".

Political Abuse of Psychiatry

The use of psychiatry as a means of political repression and torture was strongly condemned following reports of human rights abuses in Uzbekistan. Dr Delon Human, secretary general of the WMA, said: "The WMA strongly condemns this practice of using psychiatric treatment for political ends wherever it occurs. We note with concern evidence from a number of countries that political dissidents and social activists have been detained in psychiatric institutions and subjected to unnecessary psychiatric treatment as a punishment. The WMA urges all psychiatrists and physicians to resist involvement in these abusive practices and we call on national medical associations around the world to support physicians who resist involvement in these abuses".

Other issues debated included:

  • Centralised Health Databases
  • Advanced Medical Technology
  • Chemical and Biological Weapons
  • Sustainability of National Health Systems
  • Euthanasia
  • Responsibilities of editors of Medical Journals
  • Female foeticide
  • Names of Diseases

    Separate press statements were issued on the Declaration of Helsinki and tobacco advertising.


  • Dr Randolph D. Smoak Jr (America) was elected chairman of Council
  • Dr Tai Jai Moon (Korea) was re-elected vice-chairman of Council
  • Dr K. Vilmar (Germany) was re-elected Treasurer
  • Dr Harry Svabo (Norway) was elected chairman of the medical ethics committee
  • Dr Jean Claude Mot (France) was elected chairman of the socio medical committee
  • Dr Yoram Blachar (Israel) was elected chairman of the finance committee