IFMSA at the General Assembly of the World Medical Association in Fortaleza

During the past week, World Medical Association (WMA) held its Annual General Assembly in Fortaleza, Brazil.

A bit of history about WMA
The World Medical Association (WMA) is an international organization representing physicians. It was created in 1947 to ensure the independence of physicians, and to work for the highest possible standards of ethical behaviour and care by physicians, at all times. This was particularly important to physicians after the Second World War, and therefore the WMA has always been an independent confederation of free professional associations. 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.

The WMA is one of IFMSA’s key partners and sponsors; a partner directly under the responsibility of Executive Board. In recent years we have collaborated with WMA on several projects – from the side event on Social Determinants of Health (SDH) in 2012 to this year’s IFMSA’s Pre-World Health Assembly collaboration.

Highlights form the meeting
– Revision of the Declaration of Helsinki and its 50th anniversary: after an extensive consultation process with National Medical Associations and other stakeholders, final text of the revised Declaration was discussed during the Council Meeting and the new Declaration of Helsinki was adopted! A landmark moment in the history of medicine that was a privilege to witness!

– Junior Doctors Network meeting: two days before the start of the Council Meeting JDN held its meeting where IFMSA was present as well. Among the discussions of the strategic importance to JDN, new JDN board was elected with few of our IFMSA alumni being part of it! JDN and IFMSA discussed areas of common interest during this year and we are to expect a fruitful collaboration.


– Inauguration of the new President – Dr Margaret Mungherera from Uganda has just been inaugurated as the new President of the World Medical Association. First thing asked while meeting our President was “Am I invited to Tunisia in March?” IFMSA congratulates you and wishes you best of luck in the term. See you in Tunisia at the March Meeting!

– Meeting with Sir Michael Marmot
For me personally this was one of the highlights of my stay in Brazil. Sir Michael Marmot is a professor of epidemiology and public health at University College London, was chair of WHO’s commission on the Social Determinants of Health and is to many known for authoring the books “The Status Syndrome” and “Social Determinants of Health”. He attended the WMA meeting as a part of the Socio-Medical Affairs Committee of WMA and as a representative of British Medical Association (BMA).

Sir Michael knows IFMSA very well as we collaborated with him on the 2012 WHA side event, Rio +20 Conference and he was a guest speaker of our August Meeting 2011 General Assembly in Denmark. When we met, he told me that he received the best evaluation of his session on SDH that he conducted at the AM2011. When he attended a WHO meeting shortly after our AM 2011, one of his colleagues and friends, whose daughter was a delegate at that GA, approached him telling him that after the GA the only thing she was speaking about was the SDH session of Sir Michael. Sir Michael was also very well aware of our SDH project – Global Health Equity and asked me to update him on the projects that students run around the world on SDH. You could clearly see how excited he was to hear the stories of IFMSA students being champions of health equity, social justice and health for all in the grassroots level! During the remaining time of the 2 hours meeting we had, we discussed with Clarisse from WMA, Prof Vivian Nathansson from BMA about the activities around the issue of women’s rights. What we have agreed upon is to have a side event on violence against women at the next WHA meeting in May 2014!

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