World Medical Association
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (October 2011)|
The World Medical Association (WMA) is an international and independent confederation of free professional Medical Associations, therefore representing physicians worldwide. WMA was formally established on September 18, 1947 and has grown in 2013 to 102 National Medical Associations and more than 10 million physicians.
The WMA provides a forum for its member associations to communicate freely, to co-operate actively, to achieve consensus on high standards of medical ethics and professional competence and to promote the professional freedom of physicians worldwide. With this unique partnership, WMA aims to facilitate high-caliber, humane care to patients in a healhty environment, enhacing the quality of life for all people in the world.
The purpose of the WMA is to serve humanity by endeavoring to achieve the highest international standards in Medical Education, Medical Science, Medical Art and Medical Ethics, and Health Care for all people in the world.
The WMA was founded on 18 September 1947, when physicians from 27 different countries met at the First General Assembly of the WMA in Paris. This organization was built from an idea born in the House of the British Medical Association in 1945, within a meeting organized in London to initiate plans for an international medical organization to replace l'Association Professionnelle Internationale des Médecins", which had suspended its activities because of the World War II. English, French and Spanish were declared the official languages of the association, and a bulletin or journal was to be published and known as the official organ of the WMA. In order to facilitate financial support from its member associations, in 1948, the executive board, known as the Council, established the Secretariat of the WMA in New York City in order to provide close liaison with the United Nations and its various agencies. The WMA Secretariat remained in New York City until 1974 when for reasons of economy, and in order to operate within the vicinity of Geneva-based international organizations (WHO, ILO, ICN, ISSA, etc.) it was transferred to its present location in Ferney-Voltaire, France. The WMA members gathered in an annual meeting, which from 1962 was named "World Medical Assembly." Since its beginning WMA has showed concern over the state of medical ethics in general and over the world, taking the responsibility for setting ethical guidelines for the world physicians. In 1946, a study committee had been appointed to prepare a "Charter of Medicine" which could be adopted as an oath or promise that every doctor in the world would make upon receiving his medical degree or diploma. It took two years of intensive study of the oaths and promises submitted by member associations to draft a modernized wording of the ancient oath of Hippocrates which was sent for consideration at the II General Assembly in Geneva in 1948. The medical vow was adopted and the Assembly agreed to name it the "Declaration of Geneva." Also in the same II General Assembly a report on "War Crimes and Medicine" was received. This prompted the Council to appoint another Study Committee to prepare an International Code of Medical Ethics, which after an extensive discussion, was adopted in 1949 by the III General Assembly. Even after the adoption of these two documents, WMA was constantly being informed about violations of medical ethics, crimes committed by doctors in time of war, unethical human experimentation, among several other problems in the field of medical ethics and medical law. This information caused the Council to establish a permanent Committee on Medical Ethics in 1952, which has been working actively ever since, as one can see from the declarations or statements of the WMA and their continuous updates.
The main decision-making body of the WMA is the General Assembly, which meets annually and is formed by delegations from the National Member Associations, officers and members of the Council of the WMA, and representatives of the Associate Members (Associate Members are individual physicians who wish to join the WMA). The Assembly elects the WMA Council every two years with representatives drawn from each of the six WMA regions, namely Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America and the Pacific. It also elects the WMA president annually, who is the Ceremonial Head of the WMA. The President, President Elect and Immediate Past President form the Presidium that is available to speak for the WMA and represent it officially. Every two years, the WMA Council, excluding the Presidium, elects a Chairperson who is the political head of the organization. As Chief Executive of the operational units of the WMA, the Secretary-General is in full-time employment at the Secretariat, appointed by the WMA Council. The WMA Secretariat is situated in Ferney-Voltaire, France, adjacent to the City of Geneva.
The WMA memberships are very diverse. On one hand there is the Constituent Membership, which mainly applies for members who are typically National Associations of Physicians from different countries in the world (sometimes these organizations are called National Medical Associations). Such associations are broadly representative of the physicians of their country by virtue of their membership. They range from chambers to orders, from colleges to private associations. Some of these have compulsory membership and some are trade unions. On the other hand there is the Associate Membership, which applies for Individual physicians that want to join the WMA and who have voting rights at the Annual Associate Members Meeting and the right to participate in the General Assembly through the chosen representatives of the Associate Members.
Current Projects 
The WMA is active in several areas of action, but mainly in Ethics, Human Rights, Public Health, Health Systems and Advocacy. In what concerns Ethics, the WMA has various Declarations, Resolutions and Statements with which tries to help to guide National Medical Associations, governments and international organizations throughout the world. A wide range of subjects are covered like the rights of patients, research on human subjects, care of the sick and wounded in times of armed conflict, torture of prisoners, the use and abuse of drugs, family planning and pollution. WMA also works on Medical education, human resources planning for health care services, patient safety, Leadership and career development, Advocacy for physicians' and patients' rights, Occupational health and safety, democracy building for new medical associations and public health policy and projects such as tobacco control and immunization. All WMA policy documents and publications are available for free download on their website. These include (some in various languages) the World Medical Journal, the WMA Medical Ethics Manual, Caring Physicians of the World, Toolkits and Background Documents.
Partnerships and alliances with other health professional associations, governmental and non-governmental agencies and regional medical associations support the work of the WMA to provide the best possible care to the patients of the world. The WMA is a member of the World Health Professions Alliance (WHPA), which combines the strengths of the international professional associations for physicians, nurses and pharmacists to advocate and work for the highest possible standards of health care for all people. The WMA is also a member of the Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS) and of the World Federation for Medical Education (WFME). It is also an observer in the International Federation of Health and Human Rights Organizations (IFHHRO). The WMA is also in official relations with the World Health Organization (WHO), with the United Nations and many other UN organizations and specialized programs that deal directly with health issues or whose focus intersects with health concern. Some other examples are: the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Organization for Migration (IMO), the United Nations Educational and Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), In addition, the WMA also maintains relations with regional Medical Associations such as the Comite Permanent des Medecins Europeens (CPME), the European Forum of Medical Associations (EFMA), the Confederación Médica Latinoamericana y del Caribe (ConfeMeL), the Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania (CMAAO), the Medical Association of South East Asian Nations (MASEAN) and the Americans For Medical Advancement (AFMA)
See also 
- Declaration of Geneva
- Declaration of Helsinki
- Standing Committee of European Doctors
- Declaration of Tokyo. Guidelines for Physicians Concerning Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in Relation to Detention and Imprisonment
- Declaration of Malta on Hunger Strikers
- Declaration of Lisbon the Rights of the Patient
- Declaration of Ottawa on Child Health
- World Health Professions Alliance (WHPA)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS)
- World Federation for Medical Education (WFME)
- International Federation of Health and Human Rights Organizations (IFHHRO)