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World Medical Association 159th Council Meeting

8 May 2001

WORLD MEDICAL ASSOCIATION 159TH COUNCIL MEETING

The 159th WMA Council meeting was held in Divonne-les-Bains, France, from May 3 to 7 2001.

Support for Turkish Doctors

Representatives from more than 30 countries attending the meeting signed a letter of support to Turkish doctors in their struggle over human rights. The letter was written to the president of the Turkish medical association, Dr Fusun Sayek, in a show of solidarity with Turkish physicians. The letter declared: "We have been concerned by reports of torture in prisons and the harassment and persecution of physicians who have helped torture victims. As the global representative voice of physicians, we applaud the efforts of your association to stand for the rights of patients and physicians. To demonstrate our solidarity with you against the evils of torture and human rights abuses in all parts of the world, please find an attached list of signatures signed by all the participants at this council session".

Political Abuse of Psychiatry

The use of psychiatry as a means of political repression and torture was strongly condemned following reports of human rights abuses in Uzbekistan. Dr Delon Human, secretary general of the WMA, said: "The WMA strongly condemns this practice of using psychiatric treatment for political ends wherever it occurs. We note with concern evidence from a number of countries that political dissidents and social activists have been detained in psychiatric institutions and subjected to unnecessary psychiatric treatment as a punishment. The WMA urges all psychiatrists and physicians to resist involvement in these abusive practices and we call on national medical associations around the world to support physicians who resist involvement in these abuses".

Other issues debated included:

Centralised Health Databases

Advanced Medical Technology

Chemical and Biological Weapons

Sustainability of National Health Systems

Euthanasia

Responsibilities of editors of Medical Journals

Female foeticide

Names of Diseases

Separate press statements were issued on the Declaration of Helsinki and tobacco advertising.

Elections

Dr Randolph D. Smoak Jr (America) was elected chairman of Council Dr Tai Jai Moon (Korea) was re-elected vice-chairman of Council Dr K. Vilmar (Germany) was re-elected Treasurer Dr Harry Svabo (Norway) was elected chairman of the medical ethics committee Dr Jean Claude Mot (France) was elected chairman of the socio medical committee Dr Yoram Blachar (Israel) was elected chairman of the finance committee

End For further information please contact:

Nigel Duncan (press officer) 07990 542 026 (mobile) or e-mail nduncan@bma.org.uk

Dr Delon Human (secretary general) 00 33 607 1641 77 (mobile) 00 33 450 40 75 75 (office)

Website: www.wma.net

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Note to editors: The World Medical Association is an independent confederation of professional national medical associations from some 70 countries and represents more than eight million doctors.
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