Physician Leaders Shocked by Bombing of Ukrainian Medical Facilities

The World Medical Association has expressed itself deeply shocked by the Russian army’s bombing of Ukrainian civilians and hospitals, including maternity wards, infringing on medical neutrality in conflict zones.

In a strongly worded emergency resolution on the opening day of its Council meeting in Paris, the WMA condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and called for an end to hostilities.

In a unanimous vote the Council declared: ‘The WMA considers that Russia’s political leadership and armed forces bear responsibility for the human suffering caused by the conflict and it calls on Russian and Ukrainian doctors to hold high the principles in the WMA Declaration of Geneva and their protocols that serve as guidance for medical personnel during times of conflict’.

At the meeting, which was attended by physician leaders from 40 national medical associations, delegates expressed their solidarity with the Ukrainian Medical Association and all health care professionals.

WMA President Dr. Heidi Stensmyren said: ‘It is vital that parties to the conflict respect relevant humanitarian law and do not target health institutions, workers and vehicles, or restrict the access of wounded persons and patients to healthcare and do not use health facilities as military quarters.

‘We are also stressing that the parties to the conflict must strive to protect the most vulnerable populations and that access to medical care is guaranteed to all victims, civil or military, without distinction.

‘Physicians and all other medical personnel, both Ukrainian and international, must not under any circumstances be hindered in the exercise of their unwavering duty, in accordance with international recommendations’.

Finally, the resolution calls on the international community and governments to come to the aid of the millions of people displaced by the conflict. And it says that when the conflict ends, priority must be given to rebuilding the essential infrastructure necessary for a healthy life, including shelter, sewerage, fresh water supplies, and food provision, followed by the restoration of educational and occupational opportunities.