World Medical Association General Assembly


Delegates from more than 50 national medical associations attended the annual General Assembly of the WMA in Reykjavik, Iceland from 3 to 6 October. Among the issues discussed were:


In a revision to the Declaration of Seoul, the Assembly warned that unreasonable restraints on physicians’ clinical independence imposed by governments and administrators were not in the best interests of patients, because they might not be evidence based and they risked undermining trust between patients and their doctors. The meeting said physicians must retain clinical independence and professional autonomy if they are to provide quality health care to their patients.


Physicians around the world should be advised that any participation in capital punishment is unethical, the meeting agreed. Delegates reaffirmed WMA policy that physicians must not participate in executions ‘because such participation is incompatible with the physicians’ role as healer’


Physicians who have been convicted of genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity, should be denied a license to practice medicine anywhere in the world, the meeting agreed. In an updated policy statement, the WMA says that such physicians should also be denied membership of national medical associations.


In revised ethical guidelines for physicians, the meeting said that telemedicine should not be regarded as a way of cutting costs or of increasing physicians’ earnings. Nor should it be viewed as equal to face to face health care. Telemedicine should be employed primarily in situations in which a physician cannot be physically present within a safe and acceptable time period.


The Assembly revised WMA policy on biosimilar medicinal products, warning of the risk that insurers and health care providers may prefer these products to the original products because they are cheaper. This could occur even when the biosimilar product might not be appropriate for an individual patient or in situations when adequate clinical equivalence to an original product had not been demonstrated. Revised guidance was agreed saying that there should be no substitution between biosimilars and other drugs without the attending physician’s permission.


Dr. Leonid Eidelman, Past President of the Israel Medical Association, was installed as President of the WMA for 2018/19. Dr. Eidelman is head of the anesthesiology department at the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva


Dr. Miguel Roberto Jorge, was elected President elect. He will take office in a year’s time to serve as President in 2019/20. Dr. Jorge, 1st Treasurer of the Brazilian Medical Association, is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Chair of the Research Ethics Committee of the Federal University of São Paulo.

Separate press releases were issued on:
Medically Indicated Termination of Pregnancy

Other policies adopted by the Assembly included those on medical tourism, gender equality in medicine, nuclear weapons and Avian influenza.
Policies adopted can be found on the WMA website.

Violence Against Health Professions a Significant Public Health Challenge

A rising tide of violence against physicians and health professi...

WMA Issues Revised Guidelines on Genetic Testing

Revised guidelines on the use of genetics and genetic testing in...