President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said today that the AMA condemns the killing of
eight foreign doctors in Afghanistan.
statement yesterday, the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said: "The
Taliban has proudly claimed responsibility for this despicable act of wanton
violence. These men and women were in
the region to deliver free medical care to impoverished Afghan villagers,
according to the NGO they were working with."
Pesce said it is a tragedy that these doctors could lose their lives while
seeking to provide medical care to poor and oppressed people in a country at
doctors, including Australians, travel to the world's trouble spots to provide
vital medical services to the innocent victims of conflict," Dr Pesce said.
governments must do all in their power to protect doctors and other medical
personnel, volunteers and aid workers who put their safety and their lives on
the line to help others. Doctors should be afforded appropriate protection so
that they can provide medical care as part of their ethical commitment to all
people who require it.
The AMA supports the World Medical
Association (WMA) Council Resolution Supporting the Preservation of
International Standards of Medical Neutrality
and the WMA Regulations in
Times of Armed Conflict,
which advocate the following:
• Medical neutrality should be upheld
during times of conflict;
• Governments, armed forces and others in
positions of power should comply with the Geneva Conventions to ensure that
physicians and other health care professionals can provide care to everyone in
need in situations of armed conflict.
This obligation includes a requirement to protect health care personnel;
• The WMA is committed to the universal right
to health, and access to the highest attainable standard of health care. This universal right is not conditional on
peaceful existence, although a peaceful existence accommodates greater ability
to provide health to all;
• All parties involved in conflict
situations should abide by the rules of international medical ethics, as well
as the provisions of international humanitarian law, as expressed in the Geneva
Conventions, particularly their common article 3, and, specifically, to assure
the provision of medical care and/or evacuation of the trapped and wounded and
to refrain from targeting medical personnel and medical facilities;
• Medical ethics in times of armed
conflict is identical to medical ethics in times of peace, as stated in the International
Code of Medical Ethics
of the WMA.
If, in performing their professional duty, physicians have conflicting
loyalties, their primary obligation is to their patients; in all their
professional activities, physicians should adhere to international conventions
on human rights, international humanitarian law and WMA declarations on medical
• Physicians have a clear duty to care for
the sick and injured. Provision of such
care should not be impeded or regarded as any kind of offence. Physicians must never be prosecuted or
punished for complying with any of their ethical obligations; and
• Physicians must be granted access to patients,
medical facilities and equipment and the protection needed to carry out their
professional activities freely.
Necessary assistance, including unimpeded passage and complete
professional independence, must be granted.