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World Digestive Health Day on May 29, 2014: new e-learning course on the gut microbiota will be launched

Gut microbiota plays key role in digestive health – new e-learning course brings health-care practitioners up to date

(May 28, 2014) During the past decade, an impressive amount of information on the gut microbiota and its great impact on health maintenance has been gathered. However, for the benefit of the patients, the translation of these findings into daily health-care practice needs to be intensified. In order to speed up this process, the motto of May 29th World Digestive Health Day (WDHD) will be “Gut Microbes – Importance in Health and Disease”. On occasion of this day, the World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO) will launch an e-learning course, aimed at gastroenterologists. “This course is particularly adapted to the needs of doctors who wish to advise and treat their patients according to the state of the art,” says Professor Francisco Guarner, member of the board of the European Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility (ESNM) and Chairman of the 2014 WDHD.

The insights gained by exploring the human gut microbiota have opened up completely new avenues for gastroenterologists and their patients. It has been shown that the vast microbial population harboured by our intestine is intertwined in multifarious ways with a broad range of central body functions comprising not only the digestive tract, but also the immune system as well as the brain. “It is high time to translate these fascinating research results into daily healthcare practice and raise the general awareness of their relevance,” says Professor Francisco Guarner.

What has already been unveiled offers a large potential for improving diagnosis and treatment in a number of gastrointestinal diseases, among them such widespread conditions as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and metabolic syndrome. But for this to become reality, gastroenterologists have to get access to the required knowledge. Considering the daily workload doctors have to cope with, they cannot be expected to extract by themselves the relevant information from the multitude of scientific publications. “This is where the gut microbiota e-learning course comes into play: it provides information along the lines of clinical needs and patients’ concerns and thus allows doctors to update their knowledge on the gut microbiota in a time-saving but nevertheless scientifically sound manner,” says Professor Eamonn Quigley, Chairman of the WGO Foundation.

Bringing doctors up to date

The e-learning course consists of three parts, the order of which can be chosen by the user. The first part informs about general biological and medical characteristics of the gut microbiota, such as the number and the kinds of its cells and genes, the different locations within the intestinal tract that are inhabited by gut microbial communities, their interactions with body functions, and their ways of processing nutrients and drugs. The second part is guided by the general question in which cases the gut microbiota becomes an issue in the doctor’s daily practice. The focus lies on common diarrhoea, antibiotic-associated diarrhoea, IBS, IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), constipation and bloating. The user is provided with information on the microbiological processes that accompany these diseases, on their clinical development, course and duration, as well as on the appropriate diagnostic tools. This is followed by recommendations for disease management with special emphasis on the application of antibiotics and probiotics and their probable outcome. The third part centres around questions that well-informed patients might ask their doctors: what is my gut enterotype? Is my gut microbiota part of my overweight problem/solution? Does smoking impact the gut microbiota? Are some kinds of gut microbiota better than others? How can I manage my gut microbiota? Are probiotics useful? What is their effect?

At the end of the course, users can test their newly acquired knowledge by answering questions related to the gut microbiota and its medically significant aspects. A list containing the correct answers and explanations allows every user to assess his or her own course achievement. “The current WDHD’s aim is to turn gut microbiota research into a health benefit on the largest possible scale. I think the e-learning course is an important step in this direction,” says Professor Guarner.

The e-learning course will start tomorrow on WDHD 2014. Doctors can get access via the website of the ESNM Gut Microbiota for Health Section www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com and via the WGO website www.worldgastroenterology.org.

About the World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO)

The WGO is a federation of some 111 member societies and 4 regional  associations of gastroenterology representing over 50,000 individual members worldwide. Formed in 1935 and incorporated in 1958, WGO focuses on the improvement of standards in gastroenterology training and education on a global scale. Its mission is to promote, to the general public and health-care professionals alike, an awareness of the worldwide prevalence and optimal care of digestive disorders. http://www.worldgastroenterology.org

About World Digestive Health Day (WDHD)

Every 29 May, the WGO celebrates World Digestive Health Day and initiates a worldwide public health campaign through its member societies. Each year focuses on a particular digestive disorder or other gastroenterology topic in order to increase general public awareness of prevention and therapy. WGO member societies participate by arranging events in their regions to commemorate this day. http://www.worldgastroenterology.org/world-digestive-health-day-year.html