World Medical Association

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World Medical Association
WMA Logo.jpeg
WMA logo
Founded18 September 1947
  • Ferney-Voltaire, France
112 Constituent Members and 1013 Associate Members (2018)
Key people
Dr. Leonid Eidelman (President)

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[1] and has grown in 2018 to 113 national medical associations[2][3] 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 healthy environment, enhancing the quality of life for all people in the world.

Mission statement[edit]

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.[4]


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 World War II.[1]

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 shown concern over the state of medical ethics in general and over the world, taking the responsibility for setting ethical guidelines for the world physicians. A modernized wording of the ancient oath of Hippocrates 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.

During the World Medical Association General Assembly in Reykjavik in early October 2018, members of the Canadian Medical Association stated that parts of the speech by WMA's incoming president Leonid Eidelman had been plagiarized from a speech made in 2014 by Chris Simpson (cardiologist) who was then the president of CMA. Current president Dr. Gigi Osler told the group that part of the address was "copied word for word" from Simpson's speech. "Multiple other parts of the speech were also copied from various websites, blogs and news articles, without proper appropriate attribution to the authors", she latter added in a statement. A motion by Canada at the Assembly to call on Eidelman to resign was not successful.[5] On 6 October, the CMA resigned; their press release stated that the decision was made because WMA was not upholding ethical standards.[6]

In an email to The Canadian Press, WMA spokesman Nigel Duncan said that Eidelman's speech had been written by others and that he did not know that it might contain plagiarism.[5] A WMA source also told The Canadian Press that Eidelman apologized at the general assembly, after the Canadian delegates had departed; he "acknowledge[d] that part of his speech was taken from Simpson", and most delegates "accepted his apology" for the mistake.[7][8]


General Assembly[edit]

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.

Official languages[edit]

English, French, and Spanish are the official languages of the association since its creation.


Map showing the 112 WMA Constituent Members

The WMA have the following status of membership:

  • Constituent Membership: 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).[9] 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.
  • Associate Membership: 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.

See more information on Membership by clicking on the following link (WMA Membership):


The WMA is active in several areas of action,[10] but mainly in:

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.[11]

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
  • Public health policy
  • Projects such as tobacco control and immunization

The WMA also works on Education Programs such as the prison-medicine course, the MDR-TB and the TB refresher course, the ethics course and the course on microbial resistance (together with the George Mason University and the International Society for Microbial Resistance).


All WMA policy documents and publications (some in various languages)[12] are available for free download on their website. These include:

  • The World Medical Journal
  • The WMA Medical Ethics Manual
  • The World Medical and Health Policy Journal
  • Caring Physicians of the World
  • Toolkits
  • Background Documents

Official Relations[edit]

The World Medical Association is embedded in a network of organizations ranging from medical societies and associations to organizations of commercial entities. While not all inclusive, this page provides an overview of the WMA's most important partnerships.

Academic Centers (WMA Cooperating Centers)[edit]

  • Center for Global Health and Medical Diplomacy, University of North Florida on Medical leadership and Medical Diplomacy
  • Center for the Study of International Medical Policies and Practices - CSIMPP, George-Mason-University, Fairfax, Virginia on Microbial resistance and development of public (health) policy
  • Institute of Ethics and History of Medicine, University of Tübingen
  • Institut de droit de la santé, Université de Neuchâtel, Suisse
  • Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics, University of the Wiltwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Corporate Partners[edit]

Educational Resources[edit]

  • Health Sciences Online HSO
  • Health InterNetwork (HINARI)

International Organizations[edit]

  • Amnesty International - AI
  • International Federation of Associations of Pharmaceutical Physicians - IFAPP
  • International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations IFPMA
  • International Hospital Federation - IHF
  • International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims - IRCT
  • Physicians for Human Rights - PHR
  • International Society for Health and Human Rights - ISHHR
  • World Health Editors’ Network - WHEN
  • Public Service International - PSI
  • World Self-Medication Industry - WSMI

Medical Students[edit]

  • International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations - IFMSA

Patients Organisation[edit]

  • International Alliance of Patients’ Organizations - IAPO

Professional Organizations[edit]

Regional Medical Organizations[edit]

  • African Medical Association - AfMA
  • Confederation of Medical Associations of Asia and Oceania - CMAAO
  • Conference of the Central and East European Chambers
  • European Forum of Medical Associations and EFMA/WHO
  • Forum of Ibero-American Medical Associations - FIEME
  • Medical Association of South East Asian Nations - MASEAN
  • Medical Confederation of Latin-America and the Caribbean - CONFEMEL
  • Standing Committee of European Physicians - CPME

The WMA also has official relations with the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations as well as other UN bodies and specialized programs dealing directly with health problems.

Other examples of relationships are the Joint United Nations Program on HIV / AIDS (UNAIDS), the International Labor Organization (ILO), the International Organization for Migration (IMO), 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).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "History". 4 May 2017.
  2. ^ "Members' List". 4 May 2017.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "About the WMA". 4 May 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Canadian Medical Association resigns from world body". CBC Radio International. 6 October 2018.
  6. ^ "Canadian Medical Association (CMA) resigns from the World Medical Association (WMA)". CMA. 6 October 2018.
  7. ^ "Canadian Medical Association resigns from world body, accuses incoming president of plagiarizing inaugural speech". National Post. 6 October 2018.
  8. ^ "Canadian doctors quit World Medical Association over plagiarism allegations". The Globe and Mail. 7 October 2018.
  9. ^ "Members". 4 May 2017.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Medical Ethics". 4 May 2017.
  12. ^ "Publications". 4 May 2017.

External links[edit]