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The World Medical Association (WMA) General Assembly, Chicago

The World Medical Association (WMA) General Assembly, Chicago

Dr Jacqueline Kitulu, National Chair Kenya Medical Association and Director Kenya Healthcare Federation (KHF) attended the annual World Medical Association (WMA) General Assembly in Chicago from 11th to 14th October 2017. The event which was open to all constituent members of the World Medical Association, associate members, and observers and to other individuals by special invitation brought together delegates from more than 50 national medical associations.

The World Medical Association (WMA) is an international organization representing physicians, founded on 17 September 1947, when physicians from 27 different countries met at the First General Assembly of the WMA in Paris. The organization was created to ensure the independence of physicians, and to work for the highest possible standards of ethical behaviour and care by physicians, at all times.

Among the issues discussed during this year’s conference were Hunger strikes where the assembly agreed that the WMA would support any physician who faces political pressure to take part in forced feeding of hunger strikers against their ethical advice. Delegates agreed that where physicians are pressured to take part in torture, the WMA would protest internationally and publicize information about the case.

A policy of zero tolerance towards bullying and harassment in the medical profession was supported by the meeting. Delegates agreed a statement condemning bullying under any circumstances and encouraging all national medical associations members, medical schools, employers, and medical colleges to establish and implement anti-bullying and harassment policies.

Against a background of armed conflicts in many parts of the world, the Assembly issued a strongly worded statement reminding governments of the human consequence of warfare. It says that armed conflict should always be a last resort and physicians should encourage politicians, governments, and others in positions of power to be more aware of the consequence of their decisions to start or continue armed conflict.

A call for ethical codes for recruiting health professionals was agreed in a bid to reduce inappropriate recruitment activities by states. The Assembly approved a new policy to combat the problems of a global maldistribution of health care workers. It said that ethical recruitment codes were needed for both governments and commercial recruitment agencies to ensure that countries did not actively recruit from other states.

Guidance to physicians on dealing with child abuse were agreed. In a new policy document, the WMA says that child abuse in all its forms, including exploitation of children in the labor market, is a world health problem and that physicians have a unique and special role in identifying and helping abused children and their families.

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Dr Jacqueline Kitulu was nominated to the credentials committee to represent Africa region to assess who can vote, numbers and also to count votes for the presidential elections which took place on Saturday 14th October 2017. Dr. Yoshitake Yokosuka, President of the Japan Medical Association, was installed as President of the WMA for 2017/2018.

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