Education And Debate

New broom at the top? An interview with Anders Milton, the chairman of the World Medical Association's Council

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 02 September 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:620
  1. Douglas Carnall, editorial registrara
  1. aBMJ, London WC1H 9JR

    The week long annual assembly of the World Medical Association opens in Bali next week. The WMA has been through long years of internal conflict associated with the continuing membership of the South African Medical Association and wrangles over finance, and the question that observers of the assembly must address is: has the WMA finally turned a corner, or are there still questions over its relevance to ordinary doctors? Douglas Carnall talked to Anders Milton, the chairman of its council, about the work of the WMA and his vision of its future.

    Dr Milton was born and brought up in Sweden and studied for a degree in economics before turning to medicine. He was appointed to the staff of the University Hospital at Uppsala as a nephrologist on completing his PhD. Four years ago he gave up his clinical work to became the full time secretary general of the Swedish Medical Association. He was elected chairman of the council of the WMA in April of this year.

    DC: Why do doctors need the WMA?

    AM: Doctors are all members of one of the classic professions. A profession is defined by two qualities: firstly, it defines its own area of work, and, secondly it has it own ethics. Medicine has had its own ethical guidelines since the time of Hippocrates, the basic rule being that you should not harm your patients--do good and not bad. However, during the second world war some doctors in some countries engaged in “scientific” research on or pure torture of both civilians in concentration camps and prisoners of war. After the second world war it was felt that this should not happen again, and a number of medical associations decided to form a world body that would define and promulgate medical ethics throughout the world, while …

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