World Medical Association (WMA)

The World Medical Association was founded in 1947 with the aim of promoting cooperation between medical organisations across the world. Since then, its membership has grown from an initial 27 organisations to 95. Individual physicians may also become Associate Members of the WMA.

The WMA Council, which is composed of national representatives, convenes two or three times a year. It passes resolutions and acts as an advisory body to the medical profession worldwide. Central to the role of the WMA is the physician-patient relationship and, above all, the issue of patient safety. The Declaration of Geneva of the WMA is an integral part of most professional codes of practice in Germany, whereas the Declaration of Helsinki sets the benchmark for clinical trials on human beings and has been influential in the formation of German drug law.
The declarations, statements and resolutions of the WMA embrace a broad range of ethical and social issues relating to the medical profession, including determination of death, abortion, corporal punishment, the abuse of psychotropic drugs, risks of tobacco consumption, as well as problems caused by changes to the environment, demography and human rights violations.

The World Medical Association is often confused with the World Health Organisation. Although both are concerned with internationally relevant health issues, the WHO is an authority of the United Nations and is financed by national governments which, by their nature, have a political agenda. The WMA, however, is composed of and financed by voluntary members in the form of national medical associations.