Prof. Leonid Eidelman, the head of the Israel Medical Association, has been elected president of the World Medical Association (WMA), an international body representing more than nine million physicians. Eidelman was elected at the Association’s annual convention in Chicago, beating Finland’s Dr. Heikki Palve in a 98-43 vote.
Eidelman, 65, will succeed India’s Dr. Ketan Desai to lead the organization beginning in October, 2018. He has served as president of the Israel Medical Association since 2009 in addition to his role as professor of anesthesiology and intensive care medicine at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University. He immigrated to Israel from Riga, Latvia in 1987.
Eidelman’s election comes at a time that international organizations have come under pressure from pro-Palestinian Authority groups to expel Israel, including a 2016 attempt to kick Israel out of the WMA for allegedly “torturing” Arab patients. In a statement, Eidelman’s office said the ongoing attempts to boycott Israel’s medical establishment gives the election added significance.
“The fact that an Israeli doctor was elected to the most prestigious role in the world of medicine, with a great deal of influence on the most important decisions regarding the behavior of doctors . . . is very very significant.”
Eidelman is also a prominent authority in the area of medical ethics in Israel, and has spoken out frequently against the force-feeding of hunger striking security prisoners from the Palestinian Authority.