On Friday, Leonid Eidelman, the incoming president of the World Medical Association (WMA), made up of representatives from national medical associations, stood up in front of the group’s members in Reykjavik, Iceland, and told them it was a great honor to become their leader.
The trouble was, his speech had lifted passages from various sources — including remarks one of his predecessors had given in 2014. The following morning, members of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) — including Chris Simpson, who had delivered the original 2014 speech — made a motion for Eidelman to resign. When that failed, the CMA said it was leaving the WMA.
CMA president Gigi Osler said in a statement:
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. We will now turn our attention and energy to other ways we can participate in important international initiatives.
The CMA sent us a document noting the plagiarized passages, which we’ve recreated here. In addition to Simpson’s speech, Eidelman’s remarks took passages from a press release from MIT and from a telemedicine company’s site, among others.
Eidelman, head of the anesthesiology department at the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikva, Israel, did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for the WMA told CTV News that
Eidelman was not aware his speech was plagiarized because he used speech writers.
Nigel Duncan said Eidelman apologized at the general assembly, and acknowledges that part of his speech was taken from Simpson.
The CMA has clashed in the past with the WMA on whether doctors should practice euthanasia. BioEdge, drawing on a post from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, reports that the Canadian group tried to introduce a resolution that would have changed the WMA’s position opposing the practice, but withdrew it. A CMA spokesperson tells Retraction Watch that the decision to withdraw from the WMA was not related to this disagreement, but only to Eidelman’s plagiarism.
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