World Medical Association 144th Council Session

The World Medical Association will hold its 144th Council Session in Geneva, Switzerland from April 20-22.

Among the issues to be discussed are weapons and their relation to health, patient responsibilities, family violence, resistance to antimicrobial drugs, resuscitative interventions and the allocation of health care resources. Some of the papers on the following subjects are available on request to Nigel Duncan (see below).

Weapons and their Relation to Health

A proposed Statement will be discussed about the role of national medical associations on the issue of the manufacture, sale, distribution and use of certain weapons systems. The debate will take place against the background of the worldwide campaign against the use of landmines. A second paper will also be discussed about the criteria for determining whether particular weapons technology should be considered by the WMA.

Patient Responsibilities

A proposed Statement will be discussed setting out eight principles governing patients’ responsibilities in the doctor-patient relationship.

Family Violence

A proposed Declaration has been tabled calling on national medical associations to intensify and broaden their efforts to combat the universal problem of family violence, and making recommendations.

Resistance to Antimicrobial Drugs

A proposed Statement will be debated on the need for national medical associations to take action to combat the global increase in resistance to antimicrobial drugs which, according to the document, has created a public health problem of potentially crisis proportions.

Resuscitative Interventions

A proposed Statement has been circulated for comment, setting out the circumstances in which cardiopulmonary resuscitation should and should not be given.

Allocation of Health Care Resources

For several years the WMA has been debating this issue, with a view to setting out guidance to national medical associations and individual physicians. A background educational paper will be debated in Geneva which aims to bring together those physicians who believe doctors have no role in allocating health care resources and others who believe it is not unethical to restrict their patients’ access to health care.

Other issues to be considered at the Geneva meeting include:

  • family planning and the right of a woman to contraception
  • predictive medicine
  • women’s health issues

Statements and Declarations approved by the Council in Geneva would have to be adopted by the WMA’s Annual General Assembly before becoming official Association policy. The next Assembly will be held in South Africa from October 22-26.