WMA calls Expert Conference on Revising Declaration of Helsinki

The World Medical Association has announced the next stage of its public consultation on the review of the Declaration of Helsinki with details of a major conference in South Africa.

The expert conference to be held in Cape Town in December (5th-7th) will be the first in a series of expert conferences and will be hosted by the South African Medical Association. It will be open to all interested experts and to the media to attend.

In October 2011, the WMA Council decided to embark on a new process of revising the Declaration of Helsinki, one of the most important international ethical regulations of biomedical research and also one of the core documents of the WMA. The Declaration has been revised several times since its adoption in Helsinki in 1964, the last revision being in 2008.

A WMA workgroup was tasked with overseeing the revision process. It aims to gather as much input as possible from the international expert community and international organisations. All national medical associations who are members of the WMA have been invited to submit their comments on the Declaration and the WMA intends to set up a public consultation next year.

Dr. Ramin Parsa-Parsi, Chair of the WMA workgroup, said:

‘The conference will provide a platform for the international biomedical ethics community to air diverse viewpoints on the Declaration of Helsinki in order to identify the points in need of revision and facilitate the drafting of a revised version. This will ensure that the revised Declaration will not only be in line with new developments and challenges in biomedical research, but will also take a broad range of international perspectives into consideration.’

The high profile conference will have presentations from the most relevant authors who have published on this topic, as well as leading experts in the field from South Africa, Germany, the USA, Iceland, Canada and Uruguay, among others. It will be followed by further expert conferences, the next being in Tokyo in early 2013.

A major objective of the workgroup is to complete the revision process to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Helsinki approaching in 2014.

Online registration for the Cape Town conference is now open and available on the WMA website along with further information and the conference agenda.