Public Consultation opens on WMA Declaration of Geneva

A three-week public consultation on the World Medical Association’s Declaration of Geneva began today (Monday) with the posting of a revised version of the Declaration on the WMA website.

The public and the WMA’s national medical association members are being invited to comment on the proposed changes which have been drawn up following a careful process of deliberation which began in 2015. To inform its decisions regarding suggested amendments, the WMA workgroup tasked with assessing the need for a revision and developing a draft revised version has held comprehensive discussions, consulted with WMA ethics advisors and carried out a survey of WMA members regarding the use of physicians’ oaths and, more specifically, the Declaration of Geneva.

The proposed amendments are intended to incorporate important ethical principles which do not appear or are not stated explicitly in the current version of the Declaration of Geneva. The revision process was carried out with great care and respect for the unique character and significance of this document and with the ultimate objective of ensuring its sustainability in light of modern developments in medicine and medical ethics.

The most notable amendments proposed by the workgroup include the addition of references to respect for patient autonomy; reciprocal respect between teachers and students of medicine; the obligation of the physician to share medical knowledge for the benefit of the patient and the advancement of healthcare; and the need for physicians to foster their own health and ability to provide care of the highest standard (i.e. physician well-being). By filling in these gaps, the workgroup also hopes to improve the discoverability and relevance of the Declaration of Geneva as an oath in the global medical community.

To view the specific amendments that have been suggested by the workgroup, please refer to the WMA website.

All experts and stakeholders have been invited to submit comments to the WMA secretariat at no later than 29 May 2017.

The workgroup will then produce a final revised draft to be considered by the WMA’s Ethics Committee and Council at their meetings in Chicago, USA, in October 2017 when a decision will be taken whether to forward the document to the WMA Assembly at the same meeting for adoption.

The document for public consultation may be downloaded from here.