AMA declares support for Turkish doctors

24 May 2014

The AMA Federal Council has passed a formal resolution calling on the Turkish Government to immediately drop legal action against members of the Turkish Medical Association (TMA) for providing emergency medical care to demonstrators during protests last year in Istanbul.

The call comes as international medical leaders – including World Medical Association (WMA) President, Dr Margaret Mungherera; BMA President, Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran; and Vice President of the Thailand Medical Association, Professor Teerachai Chantarojanasari – attend the AMA National Conference in Canberra to discuss global health issues.

The WMA, along with 10 international medical organisations, has raised concerns over the actions taken against the TMA and provisions contained in the new Turkish health law which criminalise emergency medical care and require routine reporting of all confidential patient information to state authorities.

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that the AMA affirms the WMA's call that the Turkish government has an obligation to respect the sacred duty of physicians to care for those in need and to uphold people's right to health.

“The AMA agrees that Turkish judicial authorities should safeguard international principles of medical neutrality and medical ethics and ensure doctors are not sanctioned on the grounds of having complied with these principles.

“The AMA strongly encourages other medical organisations, both domestically and internationally, to publicly support the Turkish doctors and their right to adhere to the principles of medical ethics and medical neutrality.

“The AMA will be raising this matter with the Australian Government,” Dr Hambleton said.

The AMA Federal Council resolution reads as follows:

That the AMA:

  • strongly advocate for the rights of doctors in Turkey to provide medical care to the ill, injured, and unwell in any situation without fear of physical, professional, or legal sanctions from their government and ministries; 
  • publicly condemn the new laws in Turkey, which are not compatible with a democratic or just civil society, and are both an infringement of citizens, and their doctors, civil liberties, and grossly unethical;
  • immediately join with and add our support to other like-minded medical groups who have already acted on this issue, and to encourage other medical groupings nationally and internationally to do so; 
  • immediately advocate to the Australian Government as a friend and ally of Turkey and the Turkish people, via foreign and health ministers and their offices, the urgent need for the Turkish government to rescind these laws and stop persecuting doctors for doing their professional duty. 

The AMA last year adopted the World Medical Association's Regulations in Times of Armed Conflict as AMA policy.

The WMA Regulations incorporate the following:

  • the Regulations outline the duties of doctors working in armed conflict and other situations of violence. They also address the obligations of Governments, armed forces, and others in positions of power to allow health care personnel to fulfil their ethical duties to care for the sick and wounded, and to provide protection for health care personnel and facilities;
  • medical ethics in times of armed conflict is identical to medical ethics in times of peace;
  • doctors must always give someone the necessary care impartially and without discrimination;
  • doctors and other health care personnel must be allowed to provide care to everyone in need, whether civilian or combatant; and
  • doctors must never be prosecuted or punished for complying with their ethical obligations.

The AMA has also adopted the World Medical Association Declaration of Seoul on Professional Autonomy and Clinical Independence, Declaration of Geneva, and the Declaration of Tokyo: Guidelines for Physicians Concerning Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in Relation to Detention and Imprisonment.


24 May 2014


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