Published on: November 13, 2017

The World Medical Association (WMA), on the 14th of October 2017, published a revised Declaration of Geneva, the modern version of the 2500-year-old Hippocratic oath which laid down the fundamental principles of medical ethics that any physician should follow. The document which was decided on by an international working group over a period of two years, has several differences in wording from the previous version, but to us, the following three changes appear to be the most significant.

  • Respect to autonomy and dignity have been brought in. (It is surprising that it was not there in the previous version, despite autonomy being widely accepted as the over-riding principle of medical ethics!).
  • While traditionally doctors have been advised to respect teachers and colleagues, the new version has gone one essential step further to include reciprocity in relationships. It says, “I WILL GIVE to my teachers, colleagues, and students the respect and gratitude that is their due”. Indeed! Is it not obvious that mutual respect should underpin all human relationships and would cement the right teacher-student relationship and hence facilitate learning?
  • It has brought in self-care as an essential obligation of the doctor. The new version reads, “I WILL ATTEND TO my own health, well-being and abilities in order to provide care of the highest standard.”

To read a report in the Journal of American Medical Association, see
Parsa-Parsi R W; JAMA. Published online October 14, 2017. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.16230

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