WMA marks its 70th anniversary on medical ethics day

The World Medical Association is today marking its 70th anniversary and World Medical Ethics Day.

The Association was founded on 18 September 1947 just one month after the war crimes trial of German doctors in Nuremberg. After the experiences of World War II, representatives of the medical profession decided it was necessary to establish a new international medical organisation to develop medical ethics and to cooperate globally.

The WMA was founded with 27 countries and held its first annual General Assembly in Paris in 1947. Today the Association has a membership of more than 100 national medical associations as constituent members from around the world. It has become the global platform to develop medical ethics, the rules of the profession. Since 1947 it has developed ethical standards that are reflected in many national laws, international regulations and treaties.

In 2003 the Association decided to mark its anniversary by holding an annual World Medical Ethics Day on September 18 to promote the presence of ethics in medicine. Since then national medical associations have celebrated the day with various activities.

WMA President Dr. Ketan Desai, said: ‘The achievements of the WMA over the past 70 years have been enormous in promoting the highest standards of medical ethics in the profession. Membership has grown significantly and the WMA’s many statements have become a central part of health policy around the world.

‘Although we are proud of what the Association has achieved, there are still challenges before us. There has been a remarkable development of medical ethics during the past seventy years. The WMA has clear rules on what physicians should and should not do in their daily care of patients, their research, in dealing with disasters and even during war.

‘But with conflict zones around the world, we still have to make it clear that doctors must not involve themselves in any way in torture and degrading treatment or punishment.

‘We congratulate all those national medical associations who will mark Medical Ethics Day. This, and the WMA’s 70th anniversary, illustrate how the medical profession is continuing to develop medical ethics, considering the social determinants of health and the scientific and economic developments to provide better and safer care for all people and to help them and their communities to stay healthy’.

‘We invite those National Medical Associations that have not done so to join us, as we invite the physicians of the world to join as Associate Members on www.wma.net’.