Intended for healthcare professionals


Time for an overhaul at the World Medical Association

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 20 April 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j1955
  1. David Berger, GP and emergency medicine doctor
  1. Kalang, NSW, Australia
  1. daveberger{at}

Serious questions must be asked about its standards of governance

On 21 October 2016 Ketan Desai began his one year tenure as president of the World Medical Association. The WMA is formed and funded by 111 national medical associations and describes itself as “an organization promoting the highest possible standards of medical ethics.”1 The incumbent president, however, is a controversial figure who has been charged with corruption in a Delhi court.2 3 4

Desai has not been convicted of corruption, denies all charges against him, and must be allowed the presumption of innocence. He has been exonerated in a number of previous corruption cases, and in one recent case in Lucknow the Uttar Pradesh government did not provide sanction to proceed (decision of Lucknow High Court in possession of author and The BMJ). The current case in Delhi dates back several years, and Desai spent some months in prison on remand for this case in 2010.5 6 7 8 9 10

At that time the ethics committee of the Board of Governors in Supersession of the Medical Council of India, the body that registers …

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