Recently, I returned from Africa where I had the honor of attending the inauguration ceremonies of the two newest WGO Training Centers (TC), the Nairobi Training Center in Kenya and the Blantyre Training Center in Malawi. This experience left me meditating on the tagline of WGO, “Global Guardian of Digestive Health. Serving the World.” These words are the backbone of everything we do at WGO. From our growing worldwide Training Center program, to the Train the Trainers workshop, to our Global Guidelines and Cascades, to our participation in some of the world’s leading conferences on gastroenterology and related fields, and our member advocacy efforts through World Digestive Health Day, we strive to improve and serve the field of GI in the furthest reaches of the globe.
WGO’s 23 Training Centers are critical to WGO’s identity as a unique international organization. Our centers provide training and education opportunities, focusing training prospects where the need is greatest. Trainees learn and improve their clinical skills so they can return and provide the best possible care within their home regions. An illustration of this was the inauguration of the Nairobi Training Center, which was accompanied by an impressive three-day educational program hosted by the Gastroenterology Society of Kenya. The program, organized by the Nairobi TC Director, Professor Elly Ogutu, brought together an impressive group of skilled international and local faculty for an engrossing workshop that shows great promise for the quality education that will be provided at this newest WGO Training Center.
I also participated in the inspiring launch of the Blantyre Training Center in Malawi. This Center was made possible thanks to cooperation between the Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Programme (MLW), the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG), and the Joint Advisory Group on GI Endoscopy (JAG). Together with their local Malawi partners, this marks the first WGO Training Center to be located in a country where there is not yet a local GI society. Professor Melita Gordon and her ambitious team have set out to grow a local base of GI professionals from the ground up in a country where previously the only gastroenterologists were visitors to the region. I applaud their efforts and look forward to watching the Center grow and evolve.
Looking forward, I would like to point out that WGO’s commitment to “Serve the World” in the field of digestive health does not end with our own programs (like the Training Centers), but continues through supporting the programs of our Member Societies and regional affiliates. This year alone I will have the honor of representing WGO at many important meetings of our members.
The WGO has been invited to present a symposium at the upcoming Pan American Digestive Disease Week in Cartagena, Colombia. The WGO symposium will include, along with other experts, Professor Henry Cohen, a Past President of WGO, who I am proud to say is the recipient of the 2016 WGO Distinguished Global Lecture Award. Later that same month I will represent the WGO at the annual meeting of the Chinese Society of Gastroenterology. Along with Professor Jim Toouli, WGO Past President, and Professor Damon Bizos, WGO Train the Trainers Chairman, we will hold a one-day WGO Train the Trainers course in partnership with the Chinese Society of Gastroenterology. This is a wonderful opportunity for WGO to add an international flavor to this prestigious national conference. At the end of September the British Society of Gastroenterology led Training Colonoscopy Trainers (TCT) course will be held at the WGO Porto Hepatology Training Center, directed by Professor Guilherme Macedo, WGO Treasurer. I am optimistic that the Porto course will be one of many future international partnership events between our Member Societies and the WGO Training Centers around TCT.
Our Member Societies and regional affiliates have also been very active in supporting the 2016 World Digestive Health Day (WDHD), which is focused on “Diet and the Gut.” Each of the dozens of events held in honor of WDHD is a testament to the reach of WDHD worldwide and I am glad to see the continued success of this global public health and advocacy campaign.
While all of these activities show our efforts to support our Member Societies and the field of GI, above all I feel the greatest example of our dedication to globally promoting digestive health is through our annual international conferences, including the two-yearly World Congress of Gastroenterology and interim-year regional meetings, all organized in close collaboration with WGO Member Societies. At the Gastro 2016: EGHS-WGO International Conference this November in Abu Dhabi, UAE, renowned lecturers will speak about the latest advancements in the field of digestive health. This meeting will be the first of its kind in the Middle East and I am thankful for our partners at the Emirates Gastroenterology and Hepatology Society for granting us the chance to serve this region of the globe. I hope to see you there!
David Bjorkman, MD, MSPH
President, World Gastroenterology Organisation
REGISTER NOW: Gastro 2016 Abu Dhabi!
To learn more, please visit http://gastro2016.com/