Members in the News
Pedro Ruiz, M.D., to Become Next President of WPA
Psychiatric News
Volume 43 Number 21 page 1-25

FIG1Former APA President Pedro Ruiz, M.D., was voted president-elect of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) at the XIV World Congress of Psychiatry in the Czech Republic in September.

"I am very proud of being a member of APA and now president-elect of the WPA," Ruiz said in an interview with Psychiatric News." I look forward to encouraging mutual cooperation between APA and the WPA," specifically "working toward harmonizing the DSM-V and the ICD-11."

Ruiz was elected by the General Assembly attending the congress in Prague. He received more than 800 of the 1,094 votes cast (75 percent).

"We are extraordinarily proud of the support Pedro received from our colleagues all over the world," commented APA President Nada Stotland, M.D. "We look forward to the leadership he will bring to world psychiatry over the next six years."

"It's a very good thing for psychiatry, APA, and the WPA," said Lawrence Hartmann, M.D., a past president of APA who now chairs its Council on Global Psychiatry. Hartmann said he has known Ruiz for many years and views him "as a statesman for psychiatry with a deep and wide international understanding."

The mission of the WPA, founded in 1950 and administratively headquartered in Geneva, is "to promote the advancement of psychiatry and mental health for all peoples of the world," according to the WPA's Web site. It does this by coordinating the international psychiatric and mental health initiatives of 110 national psychiatric societies and organizations (composed of 140,000 psychiatrists) located in one of 18 zones around the world. Zone 2 contains only the United States; APA is the sole WPA organizational member, and its representative is another former APA president, Michelle Riba, M.D.

Ruiz is acting chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. His three-year term as president-elect of the WPA ends in September 2011. At that time he will become president, succeeding Mario Maj, M.D., of Italy.

Ruiz has been associated with the WPA for many years. From 2002 until last month, he served as the WPA's secretary for scientific meetings. From 1996 to 1999, he was a member of the WPA's Operational Committee on Education.

Ruiz said advocating for "full harmonization between DSM-V and ICD-11" is among his top priorities.

The reported prevalence of mental illness varies widely around the world, according to the World Health Organization. Ruiz and other experts suspect that cross-country differences in language and psychiatric nomenclature, as well as differences in cultural norms and customs, may play a role in the disparities.

For this reason, said Ruiz, it's important that DSM-V and ICD-11 have similar diagnoses and diagnostic criteria to more accurately show the epidemiology of mental illness around the world, the basis upon which health care and treatments can be more precisely targeted and standards of care developed.

Also on Ruiz's "to-do list" is "to elevate the ethical standards in psychiatry... [and] to advocate for "humane care for the mentally ill worldwide,.. .better access to mental health care,... parity of care,... [and] maximum collaboration of research efforts and initiatives among countries around the world."

"I am planning to work very hard to meet all the expectations of the presidents of WPA's member societies who supported and voted for me," Ruiz said.

Information on the WPA is posted at<www.worldpsychiatricassociation.org/index-1.shtml>.

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