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World Gastroenterology Organisation
World Gastroenterology Organisation
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March 2014

The WGO Training Centers

In this month's letter I wish to highlight the work that WGO does through the development and promotion of education via the Training Centers.

The training center concept started over a decade ago. At first we were not entirely sure how we wanted the centers to look, behave or function. The underlying vision, however was and continues to be, the improvement of knowledge and practice for medical practitioners in our specialty, i.e. Gastroenterology. With the improvement and expansion of knowledge, the delivery of care improves, and our patients receive improved health care.

The targeted areas and doctors initially were in the developing world where Gastroenterology training was thought to be deficient. In addition, there are parts of the world where Gastroenterology does not exist as a specialty of medicine or surgery.

The need for the educational programs was obvious to colleagues in these countries and thus centers have developed at their request and the request of health authorities. To date there are 17 designated WGO Training Centers and a number of other centers are under discussion for future development. I take this opportunity to welcome the Lagos Training Center in Nigeria as the most recent addition to the WGO Training Centers. In addition, I welcome the discussions and first training course which have taken place in The Gambia with the aim of establishing a training center in conjunction with our colleagues from the Horizon Foundation.

The various centers have developed differently. However, as time has passed, we now have a good understanding of how we wish these to look, behave, function and deliver the services desired.

Successful centers have the following major features:

  1. A dedicated director who oversees the programs as well as administration of the center.
  2. An academic focus. The center’s faculty teach as part of their day-to-day activity and have done so for some time. They are also eager to learn new techniques and ways of delivery of educational material.
  3. Accountable, in that they are able to apply objective parameters to evaluate their activities and their results as evidenced by the quality of their graduates.
  4. Funding support which may be from a philanthropic organization, a WGO Member Society or the biomedical industry.
  5. Partnership with a WGO Member Society to provide academic input, support and from time to time, senior faculty who assist with the delivery of the educational activities.

WGO is a facilitator in aiming to achieve these attributes for each of the existing and emerging centers. Through the linkages with our Member Societies, the Training Centers have been able to access resources which might otherwise not been available to them. The American College of Gastroenterology has very generously made available its high quality Education Universe Program for use at the centers. Trainees who have accessed this web-based program have given it high praise, as have the training directors who have used it for delivery of their education aims.  Most recently the British Society of Gastroenterology has made available to our centers their highly acclaimed procedural training course, which we hope shall be adopted and delivered at all of the WGO Training Centers. WGO Member Societies have very generously facilitated, endorsed, and helped fund involvement of their members as faculty at various courses which have been held at the Training Centers. These include:

In addition, nursing groups have increasingly become involved and we welcome exploring ways of how this partnership may be enhanced.

Why do centers and Member Societies value the WGO “brand” recognition? We believe that it is a mark of quality, and the designation of WGO Training Center proclaims to the world that a high standard has been achieved. Our Member Societies also know that by their involvement we can together make a difference.

Quality in training is difficult to monitor. Under the leadership of Training Centers Committee Chairman Des Leddin, WGO has developed measuring tools, which will allow us to gauge quality of our centers, and the programs that they deliver. These measures are important to WGO, to the faculty who teach at the centers, to the Member Societies who contribute to the centers and to the WGO Foundation who aim to raise funds that can be channeled into center activities.

I invite you to review the WGO website and to better get acquainted with this important contribution to world health. I also invite your participation through your WGO Member Society to become involved in teaching at one of the centers. I am confident that the experience shall be rewarding. I invite all of our Member Societies to join us in improving the standard of practice of our specialty around the world. Together we can make a difference!

Thank you to all the teachers who so generously give their time to help at the centers. Thank you to the WGO Member Societies who have provided assistance in running the various courses, assist in recommending faculty, and in providing educational material and much needed resources.

I know that we are having an impact via this program which is quite unique for an international organization. We can justifiably be very proud of the outcomes.


James Toouli
Emeritus Professor of Surgery
President, World Gastroenterology Organisation