Urgent steps to invest more in the well-being, working and living conditions of physicians and other health professionals have been called for by the new President of the World Medical Association, Dr. Osahon Enabulele.
In his inaugural address at the WMA’s annual Assembly in Berlin, Dr. Enabulele, former President of the Nigerian Medical Association, said: ‘This is to help reduce or eliminate physical and mental burn-out of physicians, and the brain drain of physicians and other health professionals, especially from already under-served countries.’
He added that ‘coming from an under-represented and poorly understood African continent that is largely deprived of quality healthcare’, he considered his election as WMA President as an opportunity to enhance the well-being, rights and professional autonomy of physicians across the globe, and to strengthen countries’ healthcare systems through universal health coverage, the Sustainable Development Goals and the mitigation of the effects of climate change.
The safety of physicians and other health care providers was one of the four key lessons that the world and the medical profession should learn from the Covid-19 pandemic, the other three being the need to build resilient health systems, human resources for health, and the public communication and engagement of physicians.
He said that in building resilient health systems, the WMA had to continue to champion the need for global solidarity in health, equitable access to vaccines and drug treatments, including their research and development, and appropriate investment in health systems.
‘The WMA should be an untiring advocate of global public health interventions to reduce or eliminate the staggering health inequities and inequalities, across the globe’.
Dr. Heidi Stensmyren, the retiring WMA President, in her valedictory speech, said that thousands of physicians were leaving the profession early.
‘Many, if not most, have left due to fear, burnout, and the often overlooked feeling of helplessness, worried that they can no longer make a difference’.
She said she was deeply concerned about the growing violence against physicians, often involving patients or relatives. She was also concerned about attacks on health care personnel in conflicts.
‘Healthcare is a vital part of society, and healthcare workers should be considered “neutral” in any conflict. Instead, we have become targets. The attacks on healthcare facilities have reached never-before-seen levels. The crimes against civilians and those who care for others are horrible. It is a global disgrace’.