Medical News Today, January 7, 2009 - A plea for physicians to be granted access to patients, medical facilities and equipment in the Gaza strip has come from the World Medical Association. Urging improvement to the difficult humanitarian situation in Gaza, the WMA said that the escalation of the conflict between the Palestinian Hamas and the Israeli Forces had led to a humanitarian crisis in the area.
The Association, representing millions of physicians around the world, has issued a plea for a ceasefire in order to end the suffering of people on both sides.
The WMA has reminded those in charge that physicians must be granted access to patients, medical facilities and equipment and the protection needed to carry out their professional activities freely. It said that necessary assistance, including unimpeded passage and complete professional independence, must be granted. It also strongly demanded that symbols of the relief organizations were not abused.
Dr. Otmar Kloiber, Secretary General of the WMA, said: 'We demand from all parties to the conflict and in neighbouring countries adherence to international conventions on human rights, international humanitarian law and WMA declarations on medical ethics.
'We urge Hamas, the Israeli armed forces and others in positions of power to 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 World Medical Association is the independent confederation of national medical associations from more than 90 countries and represents more than eight million physicians. Acting on behalf of patients and physicians, the WMA endeavours to achieve the highest possible standards of medical care, ethics, education and health-related human rights for all people.