Medical Ethics

The Rwanda Medical Association (RMA) is committed to improve patient care and the health of the public by examining and promoting physician professionalism. In RMA, we strive to meet this challenge through the contribution the establishment of ethics policies that provide guidance for practicing physicians, the development of educational programs that inform physicians on means to address ethical and professional challenges, and the pursuit of rigorous and scholarly research that examines critical ethical issues in medicine.

Physician’s oath

I swear, on my honour and conscience, that as a physician I shall strive to serve my fellow man and to respect humanity. My goals shall be to maintain and promote health, to prevent disease and to heal the ill and ease their pain.

In my work I shall comply with medical ethics and only make use of treatments which have been proven useful by medical research or experience. When recommending a test or a treatment, I shall take the benefit and the possible harm to the patient equally into account. I shall continuously maintain a high level of professional competence and assess the quality of my work. I shall respect my colleagues and provide them with the help they request when treating patients. Where necessary, I shall encourage my patient to seek a second opinion.

I shall respect the will of my patient. I shall keep secret all confidential information that I have been trusted with when treating my patients. I shall fulfill my duty as a physician to everyone without discrimination. I shall not, even under threat, use my skills against my professional ethics.

Code of Medical Ethics in RMA

A person working as a physician has undertaken a great and demanding task, which cannot be fulfilled unless there is, in addition to proper knowledge, a serious desire to meet the ethical responsibilities acknowledged by the medical profession for thousands of years. A physician gains trust on the basis of personality, knowledge and proficiency. In accordance with these principles, the General Assembly the Rwanda Medical Association has adopted the following code to be observed by physicians in their profession.

One. It is a physician’s duty to protect human life and alleviate suffering, with the promotion and establishment of health as the principal aim.

Two. A physician shall serve his fellowmen charitably and show himself by his behavior and actions to be worthy of the trust and respect that his task requires. He shall never participate in torture, the implementation of a death sentence or any other inhuman actions or preparation thereof.

Three. A physician shall treat patients as equals and not allow race, religion, political views or social status to have any effect on his actions towards them.

Four. A physician shall not use his/her authority to undermine a patient’s right to make decisions concerning himself. Even where the patient cannot convey his own will, it is incumbent upon the physician to act in the patient’s best interest. If a physician is compelled to make decisions concerning examinations or therapy irrespective of the patient’s will, such decisions shall always be made on medical grounds.

Five. A physician shall maintain and further his knowledge and skills, and shall recommend only those examinations and therapy that are considered effective and purposeful on the basis of medical knowledge and experience.

Six. Should a physician wish for his/her patient to participate in a clinical trial in which the examinations and therapy deviate from the normal procedure for the disease, he/she shall obtain the patient’s freely-given consent without pressure, the patient being aware of the trial and of the additional strain and risks involved. Generally accepted declarations and instructions issued by the authorities shall be observed during the trial.

Seven. A physician shall maintain medical confidentiality and encourage his subordinates to do so.

Eight. A physician may not seek unfounded tangible interest. He/she shall treat patients according to their need and collect a fee on the basis of the work carried out.

Nine. When issuing certificates and statements a physician shall bear in mind that he is an impartial witness or expert whose statement must be based on the objective findings of a thorough examination, on their critical evaluation and on other facts observed.

Ten. A physician must observe strict consideration and avoid self emphasis when appearing in public. When advertising, a physician shall observe instructions on the advertising of physicians and medical services.

Eleven. A physician neither shall nor become involved in medical care in which he does not have the freedom to act according to his duties and the principles of this code.

WMA declaration of Helsinki Adopted by the 18th WMA General Assembly, Helsinki, Finland, June 1964, and the latest amendment was October 20088 at the 59th WMA General Assembly, Seoul, Korea.

Click here to read the WMA declaration of Helsinki