What should have been a singular honor for Dr. Leonid Eidelman, head of the Israel Medical Association (IMA), has turned into an international incident. Eidelman was over the weekend named head of the World Medical Association (WMA) – and after an inauguration meeting, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) announced that it was resigning its membership in the WMA.
In a statement, the CMA said that it resigned in order to “take a stand against a serious ethical breach by incoming president. Following Dr. Eidelman’s inaugural speech, it was discovered that part of his remarks were plagiarized word for word from those of Dr. Chris Simpson’s inaugural presidential address in 2014. Multiple other parts of the speech were also copied from various websites, blogs and news articles, without appropriate attribution to the authors.” According to CMA head Dr. Gigi Osler, “As an organization that holds itself as the arbiter of medical ethics at the global level, the WMA has failed to uphold its own standards. The CMA cannot, in all good conscience, continue to be a member of such an organization.”
Sources in the IMA told Haaretz that Eidelman’s speech was written in Hebrew and translated into English, and was completely original. The sources said that it was not by coincidence that the CMA was the only one of 114 international medical associations to protest Eidelman’s appointment; there has been a long-running dispute between the Israel and Canadian medical associations over the latter’s pushing of “right to die” rules for terminal patients, which is opposed by the IMA.
Eidelman was voted to head the World Medical Association in a meeting last October. Eidelman, who heads the anesthesiology department at the Rabin Medical Center in Petach Tikvah, was one of two finalists for the job, beating out contender Dr. Heikki Palveof Finland by 98 votes to 43 for the Finnish physician. Eidelman will take office in a year’s time to serve as president in 2018/19.
Eidelman has held several positions in the organization, which was established in 1947. The body sets policy for physicians worldwide, provides assistance in emergencies, and sponsors courses for physicians. In this year’s meeting, it updated the Hippocratic Oath that doctors usually take when they are granted their degrees.
In a statement, the Israel Medical Association congratulated Eidelman, saying that “Israel is often under attack in international forums, replete with threats to ban Israeli doctors from international organizations. It is thus very important that an Israeli doctor was chosen to lead the WMA, the most important organizational post in the medical world.”