Lobbying the World Medical Association

Lobbying the World Medical Association
March 11, 2016
News and events

Medenterprises’ founder lobbies World Medical Association for oath change.

The Declaration of Geneva is a statement of ethical principles for medical doctors, adopted by the World Medical Association (WMA) in 1948. It is based on the Hippocratic Oath, which has guided medical ethics for thousands of years.

The Declaration of Geneva serves as an important reminder of the obligations and responsibilities of medical doctors. By adopting the Declaration of Geneva, medical doctors affirm their commitment to these principles and demonstrate their dedication to the highest standards of ethical practice in healthcare delivery.

Until 2017, the Declaration of Geneva stated that the physician's foremost duty is to the patient and that the patient's health must be the doctor's first consideration (with no consideration for the doctor's health and wellbeing). 

In 2012, Medenterprises Founder Dr Sam Hazledine started researching doctor burnout, and it proved conclusive: doctor wellbeing was critical to providing the best standard of care. This was when he set about lobbying to include it in the Declaration of Geneva.

Dr Hazledine said it wasn't until 2015, when he spoke about wellbeing to graduating medical students around New Zealand, that he realised the Declaration of Geneva did not mention doctor health and wellbeing.

This was when he began collecting signatures to encourage medicine's governing body, the World Medical Association, to work doctor welfare into its oath.

There was unanimous agreement and support from an Association working group – set up to review the Declaration – and the Association's ethics committee when Hazledine spoke to the 4500-signature petition at a meeting in Taipei. In October 2017, it was put forward to the full general assembly for ratification.

"If a patient truly comes first, then you have to look after yourself. I was speaking on doctor wellbeing, and that occurred to me. We can't just put on this professional facade that we're doing OK." Dr Hazledine told Stuff

The Declaration of Geneva has only been amended four times since it was adopted by the General Assembly of the World Medical Association in Geneva in 1948. It was amended in 1968, 1983, and 1994, editorially revised in 2005 and 2006 and amended in 2017.

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Declaration of Geneva

Dr Sam Hazledine on changing the Declaration of Geneva.

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