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World Gastroenterology Organisation
World Gastroenterology Organisation
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December 2015

Dear Colleagues,

During this holiday season I would like to take a moment to reflect on 2015 and share with you some thoughts for the year to come.

I am honored to take on the role of President of the World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO) and excited about what we can accomplish together in the next two years. I wish to thank my predecessor, Jim Toouli, for his contributions to WGO during his Presidency, and all of the past WGO Officers, Committee and Interest Group representatives, and member societies whose efforts have made WGO what it is today.

At heart is our primary mandate to serve as global guardians of digestive health. I look to build on and strengthen WGO’s mission "to promote to the public and health care professionals alike a keen awareness of the worldwide prevalence and optimal care of digestive disorders." We do this through provision of high quality, accessible, and independent education, training, and advocacy.

WGO makes our mission manifest to the global community through our various activities:

Guidelines and Cascades which are available in six languages (English, French, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish). Our guidelines are globally applicable by the nature of their cascades, offering levels of diagnostic and treatment options depending on regionally available resources. I am proud to say that WGO is the only organization whose Guidelines have adopted such a global focus. New guidelines are in development and existing guidelines are continually updated.

WGO Training Centers
WGO’s 23 Training Centers demonstrate what makes WGO a unique international organization. Our centers provide training and education opportunities where the need is greatest and delivery of health care and the application of skills and expertise can be retained locally to benefit underserved populations worldwide. A new scholarship program will make the resources of the training centers available to more individuals desiring to get additional training.

Train the Trainers
Since 2001, Train the Trainers workshops have brought together trainers in GI and related disciplines from across the globe in an intensive and highly interactive format designed to develop teaching and training skills. Two Train the Trainers programs are planned for 2016, with others planned for the future. The programs are open to individuals nominated by their member societies or through our new individual membership described below. Member societies can partner with WGO to host a Train the Trainers program in their country, in which case 50% of the participants come from the hosting society.

World Congresses of Gastroenterology
In partnership with our member societies the WGO global community comes together biannually at the World Congress of Gastroenterology to share viewpoints and highlight achievements in GI, liver, and related disciplines. These meetings enhance the scientific congresses that are held by our member societies. Gastro 2015, held in Brisbane, Australia in partnership with the Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA), was the most recent offering. Gastro 2015 was a huge success and we encourage you to watch your inbox for an upcoming issue of e-WGN for highlights from the meeting.

I encourage you to save the date now for the next World Congress. Gastro 2017 will take place in Orlando, Florida, USA in partnership with the American College of Gastroenterology. Mark your calendar to join us 13-18 October 2017!

And we will soon begin to plan for Gastro 2019. WGO is excited to partner with the Turkish Society of Gastroenterology to bring the World Congress to Istanbul.

WGO Regional Interim Meetings
In addition to the two-yearly World Congresses, WGO also partners with its member societies to convene more regionally focused meetings. For Gastro 2016, WGO will partner with our colleagues in the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi from 17-19 November 2016. These regional meetings are an opportunity for the WGO community to come together in the years between World Congresses of Gastroenterology for scientific discourse and as a meeting place for all WGO committees and interest groups. We hope to see you in Abu Dhabi in November! I encourage you to visit to learn more about the meeting and plan your participation.

World Digestive Health Day (WDHD)
Each year on 29 May WGO celebrates WDHD, the premier worldwide public health initiative to create global awareness of digestive health. We are grateful to our member societies and regional affiliates who helped promote WDHD each year. This year’s theme brought attention to Heartburn and in 2016 the campaign will take a closer look at Diet and the Gut. An array of tools and resources are developed around each theme and are available on the WGO website.

In addition to these established programs, I am excited to share with you several new beginnings for WGO:

Individual Membership
As approved at the recent General Assembly this past October, WGO is expanding upon its traditional structure (a federation of over 100 member societies) by offering the exciting addition of individual membership. Individual membership will be a great way for persons in countries where there is no WGO member society to be a part of WGO. In countries with a member society individuals who are members of that society can enhance their relationship with WGO by adding an individual membership to that of their member society.

Individual members of WGO will receive additional value over and above what they already receive as a member of their WGO member society. The benefits for individual members will include a subscription to the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, the official journal of WGO, and direct access to WGO programs like Train the Trainers.

Applications for individual membership will be opening on the WGO website in the first quarter of 2016.

An organization’s success rests on the shoulders of many. In this I am fortunate in my term as President to be joined by a Governing Council which shares in the mission of WGO and is eager to continue shaping its vision over the next two years. The Governing Council, particularly the new Council of Chairs, is designed to facilitate the committees and interest groups that coordinate the many WGO activities around the globe.

Join me in welcoming the members of the 2015-2017 WGO Governing Council:


President-Elect and Chair of the WGO Foundation
Professor Cihan Yurdaydin


Secretary General
Professor Naima Amrani


Professor Guilherme Macedo


Past President and Chair of Nominations
Professor James Toouli


Chair, Clinical Research Committee
Professor Kaichun Wu


Chair, Endoscopy, Other Procedures, and Outreach Interest Group
Professor Mark Topazian


Chair, Guidelines Committee
Professor Greger Lindberg


Chair, Hepatology Interest Group
Professor Douglas LaBrecque


Chair, Scientific Programs Committee
Professor Geoffrey Metz


Chair, Training Centers Committee
Professor Desmond Leddin


Chair, Train the Trainers Committee
Professor Damon Bizos
(South Africa)


President, Pan-American Gastroenterological Association (OPGE)
Professor Luis Carlos Sabbagh


President, Asian Pacific Association of Gastroenterology (APAGE)
Professor Kentaro Sugano


President, African Middle East Association of Gastroenterology (AMAGE)
Professor Olusegun Ojo


Chair, United European Gastroenterology (UEG) National Societies
Professor Joost Drenth


On behalf of the Governing Council, I express our enthusiasm to work with you over the next two years. Our leadership is distributed so that we can reach all of our member societies and we invite you to reach out to us in return. Please feel free to contact myself, or any member of the WGO Governing Council, at any time with your questions or comments. Our goal is to contribute to the success of each of our member societies while fulfilling our mission of promoting global improvements in digestive health.

Our members are the lifeblood of this organization and I encourage all of our member societies to explore the many ways you can be involved in WGO. Whether this be by taking part in a WGO committee or interest group, attending a TTT workshop or international congress, partnering with WGO on a World Congress or International Meeting, sharing a report on your society’s annual meeting in e-WGN, or partnering with one of the many WGO Training Centers around the world, we welcome the global input that makes WGO so unique.

Thank you for your commitment to WGO.

I wish you and your families a safe and enjoyable holiday season and a happy and prosperous New Year!

David Bjorkman, MD, MSPH
President, World Gastroenterology Organisation

SAVE THE DATE: Gastro 2016 Abu Dhabi!

To learn more, please visit
Gastro 2016: EGHS-WGO International Congress | 17-19 November | Abu Dhabi, UAE