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03 Nov 2017

The World Medical Association (WMA) has updated the oath sworn by doctors in order to reflect the importance of them taking care of their own health.

The Declaration of Geneva, which is the modern successor to the 2500 year-old Hippocratic Oath, was revised on October 14 this year at the WMA General Assembly in Chicago.

The Declaration was first adopted by the WMA at its second General Assembly in 1948 and clearly outlines the ethical principles and professional duties of physicians.

It has only been slightly amended since its adoption almost 70 years ago.

So it was no small thing for the most recent General Assembly of the WMA to make such a significant change to the Declaration of Geneva.

The revised oath, now referred to as a pledge, offers a refocus to ensure that doctors are attentive to their personal health. 

“I WILL ATTEND to my own health, well-being, and abilities in order to provide care of the highest standard,” the amendment states.  

AMA President Dr Michael Gannon was in attendance at the General Assembly and witnessed the historic change. 

More than 50 national medical associations were present at the international gathering.

Additional changes were also approved, including a refocusing to reflect changes over time in the nature of the relationships between treating doctors and their patients.

The new pledge refers to the autonomy of the patient. Previously, the oath referred to respect only for teachers, not from teachers to their colleagues and students and the updated pledge amends this.

It is currently in the two-year revision process, which includes a period for public consultation. 

Dr Yoshitake Yokokura, President of the Japan Medical Association, was installed as President for 2017/18, and Dr Leonid Eidelman, President of the Israel Medical Association, was named President-elect. 

The World Medical Association Declaration of Geneva, known now as the Physician’s Pledge, states:


I SOLEMNLY PLEDGE to dedicate my life to the service of humanity;

THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF MY PATIENT will be my first consideration;

I WILL RESPECT the autonomy and dignity of my patient;

I WILL MAINTAIN the utmost respect for human life;

I WILL NOT PERMIT considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing, or any other factor to intervene between my duty and my patient;

I WILL RESPECT the secrets that are confided in me, even after the patient has died;

I WILL PRACTISE my profession with conscience and dignity and in accordance with good medical practice;

I WILL FOSTER the honour and noble traditions of the medical profession;

I WILL GIVE to my teachers, colleagues, and students the respect and gratitude that is their due;

I WILL SHARE my medical knowledge for the benefit of the patient and the advancement of healthcare;

I WILL ATTEND to my own health, well-being, and abilities in order to provide care of the highest standard;

I WILL NOT USE my medical knowledge to violate human rights and civil liberties, even under threat;

I MAKE THESE PROMISES solemnly, freely, and upon my honour.


Published: 03 Nov 2017