World Medical Association

World Medical Association

WMA logo
Founded 18 September 1947
  • Ferney-Voltaire, France
112 Constituent Members and 1013 Associate Members (2016)
Key people
Dr. Ketan Desai (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 2016 to 112 national medical associations[2] 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

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.[3]


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.


General Assembly

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

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:

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


The WMA is active in several areas of action,[5] 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.[6]

WMA also works on:

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)[7] are available for free download on their website. These include:

Official Relations

The Word 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)

•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

Bayer Pharmaceuticals

Eli Lilly and Company


Pfizer, Inc.

Educational Resources •Health Sciences Online HSO

•Health InterNetwork (HINARI)

International Organizations

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

•International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations - IFMSA

Patients Organisation

•International Alliance of Patients’ Organizations - IAPO

Professional Organizations

•World Health Professions Alliance - WHPA

•World Dental Federation - FDI

•International Pharmaceutical Federation - FIP

•International Council of Nurses - ICN

•Guidelines International Network - G-I-N

•International Confederation of Midwives - ICM

•International Council of Medical Scientific Organizations CIOMS

•International Federation of Physiotherapists - WCPT

•Medical Women’s International Association - MWIA

•World Federation for Medical Education - WFME

World Psychiatric Association - WPA

World Veterinary Association - WVA (MOU mutually signed by the WVA and WMA on 12 October 2012)

•One Health Initiative

Red Cross/Red Crescent

International Committee of the Red Cross - ICRC

•The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies - IFRC

Regional Medical Organizations •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

See also


  1. 1 2 "History". 15 June 2009.
  2. "Members' List". 10 July 2009.
  3. "About the WMA". 2 June 2009.
  4. "Members". 15 June 2009.
  6. "Ethics". 15 June 2009.
  7. "Publications". 2 June 2009.
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