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History of the MWIA

The MWIA is the oldest established international medical society in the world. It was formed in 1919 and now boasts a membership of 75 countries across five continents. All medical women, qualified according to the accepted standard of the medical profession in their own country, are eligible for membership. The different cultural backgrounds, medical traditions and problems of the Associationšs members provide a stimulating forum.

The legal Head Office of the Association is in Geneva, Switzerland and the Administrative Headquarters is in Cologne, Germany. The Association is represented in The World Health Organisation, the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and UNICEF. The MWIA established official relations with the World Health Organisation in 1954 and holds Category II status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

The MWIA is represented on the Board of the General Council of International Organisation of the Medical Sciences and has NGO official observer status to the World Medical Association. MWIA has been instrumental in raising awareness and effecting improvements for women in areas such as the human rights of women affected by the Taliban militia in Afghanistan and widows in some African nations.

Aims of the MWIA

1. To stimulate, encourage and promote the entry of women into the medical and allied sciences throughout the world and assist its members in optimum utilization of their medical training.

2. To foster friendship, respect and understanding among medical women throughout the world without regard to race, religion or political views.

3. To afford medical women the opportunity to meet at stated times to consider common problems together and to gain the cooperation of medical women in matters in international health.


International Congresses are held every three years and focus on a specific area of interest. Resolutions and plans of action are developed during the MWIA General Assemblies to take to the UN and other organisations. Thus MWIA provides its members with the opportunity to exchange ideas both experiences with colleagues from other nations. Though we have different languages, customs, ideologies, and racial backgrounds, working together with mutual respect can contribute to humanity. We are motivated by the same hope, that all the world’s people will become physically and mentally healthier and consequently better world citizens.

This year’s Congress featured the world-wide pandemic of HIV/AIDS and particularly mother-to-child transmission of HIV infection, activities of the Ethiopian Fistula Hospital, and the Australian overseas aid program, as well as more specific topics in the theme areas. Resolutions from the 25th Congress for the improvement of women’s health will lead to the development of action plans for implementation over the next triennium.

Australian Federation of Medical Women

The AFMW was the host committee for the 25th Congress. AFMW seeks to promote the interests of Australian medical women in matters relating to their professional lives and to act for and represent medical women in all matters of mutual interest at national and international levels and, in particular, in relation to the further education of Australian medical women. There are Medical Women’s Societies in each of the states of Australia and in the Australian Capital Territory.

The 2001 Host Committee

Dr Marilyn McMurchie

President of the Australian Federation of Medical Women for the Congress

Dr McMurchie graduated from the University of Sydney. She subsequently undertook a Master of Health Planning degree at the University of NSW and has a Fellowship in the Faculty of Public Health with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and a Diploma in Women’s Health from the Royal Australian college of General Practitioners.

Dr McMurchie is a general practitioner in central Sydney with a strong interest in HIV medicine and education. She is a senior lecturer in the Department of General Practice at the University of Sydney Medical School. She is also the NSW Regional Medical Director of the 2nd Australian National Blood Pressure Study.

Marilyn’s committee memberships reflect her interests. She is currently president of the Australian Federation of Medical Women and has been the convenor of the 25th international congress of the Medical Women’s International Association. She is a member of the NSW Ministerial Advisory Council on AIDS Strategy and chair of the HIV Prescriber’s CME Project. She has previously been a member of the Australian National Council on AIDS and Related Diseases and is a past president of the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine.

She is a member of the Joint Public Health Advisory Committee of the General Practice Partnership Advisory Council and RACGP National Adviser to the National Health and Medical Research Council National Breast Cancer Centre and acts as an examiner for the Australian Medical Council. Previous committee memberships include membership of the General Practice Strategy Review group for the Federal government, the Community HIV Research network, Women and Violence (RACGP) HCV Education program for GPs and the Intercollegiate Committee on Mammographic Screening.

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