7 WORLD GASTROENTEROLOGY NEWS SEPTEMBER 2015 Editorial | Expert Point of View | Gastro 2015: AGW/WGO | WDHD News | WGO & WGOF News | WGO Global Guidelines | Calendar of Events the WGO ledger? As WGO’s focus moved away from World Congresses it moved very deliberately to educa-tion and training. These efforts became enshrined in WGO’s well established and flag-ship programs, Train the Trainers (TTT), Training Centers (TCs), Global Guidelines (including the unique cascades approach) and Publications. The history and success of these programs, shepherded for so many years by our current President, James Toouli, have been detailed extensively in these pages in the recent past; suffice it to say that each of these programs has enjoyed great success and won many accolades as well as universal recognition as having real and lasting impact on digestive health and on the care of digestive diseases around the world. What’s the problem? These programs are expensive to run and re-sult in considerable annual expenditure for WGO. Some years ago, Douglas LaBrecque, our then WGO Treasurer, made it abundantly clear that a strategy based on diminishing income from quadrennial World Congresses and ever expanding expenditure on our burgeoning year-round programs could only lead to one outcome: insolvency! After much thought and considerable consultation, WGO decided that a concerted effort needed to be made to develop a fundraising strategy that ensured regular income to sustain (and develop) our programs that was not overly dependent on the outcome of an occasional mega-congress. Thus the establishment of the World Gastro-enterology Organisation Foundation (WGOF), which had one simple charge: to raise funds to support the valuable work of WGO. At first sight, raising funds to sup-port the work of an organization that provides such benefits to its members and has been especially focused on the less-well served areas of the world would seem to be a simple task: com-pelling message, successful programs, obvious need! As Bernard Levin, who so astutely and wisely led the Founda-tion in its early years and shepherded it from infancy well into its adolescence, was to discover, this was far from a simple task. Many obstacles littered the path between WGO and its deserved rewards: competition with other re-gional and global charities and NGOs who had an established track record, a relative lack of appreciation of the global GI health issues that afflict so many throughout the world and seem less attractive to potential sponsors (try organizing an event for “diarrhea”), as well as major upheavals in the device and pharmaceutical industries (merg-ers and acquisitions, more emphasis on national and regional, rather than global support, drugs coming off patent, for example). Furthermore, while some of our programs, such as guidelines, can be seen to have a direct impact on health care, other critical programs, such as TTT and TCs will achieve their goals over the medium- to long-term and may be more difficult to “sell” in media business cycles that seem to grow ever shorter. Within WGO we learned by trial and error (and expensively) that our greatest weapon in our fight to attract support lay in one of our very own programs and one that was initiated as far back as 2005 by our then Secretary General and later President, Henry Cohen: World Digestive Health Day (WDHD). A wonderful summary of all 10 WDHDs can be found on our website. Suffice it to say that WDHD embodies all that WGO strives to achieve: a focus on a major global issues in digestive health around the world, collaboration (and not com-petition) with our member societies, and the presentation of messages and information of interest to the general public and health care professionals alike. The pages of media pieces and excerpts, photo galleries, and glow-ing write-ups from events presented by WGO and member societies in every corner of the globe visible on the website attest to the real and tangible impact of every WDHD. By virtue of the appeal of its themes and their related messages to the public, to health care professionals and the media in every form, WDHD also provides an opportunity for collabora-tion with industry, be it pharmaceuti-cal, device, instrument, or nutritional. Importantly, a strict code of conduct governs all interactions with industry to ensure that WGOF or WGO can always maintain a position free from bias and ever mindful of the high-est ethical standards. For all of these reasons, WDHD has become the cor-nerstone around which the Founda-tion exerts its fundraising efforts. It is not and never should be our exclusive fundraising event; WGO and WGOF leadership continue to find, from multiple and diverse sources, support for individual programs and events, an effort that must continue. In this short piece I have endeav-ored to summarize the events that led to the birth of WGOF as well as outline the challenges that this relatively new offshoot of WGO has encountered. I am pleased to report that, as my term moves to its close, WGOF has begun to achieve what it was established to do: generate funds to support WGO’s programs. This has been no easy task and would not have been achieved without the stalwart efforts of the officers and members of the WGOF board, the support and encouragement of the WGO Govern-ing Council, and the help and advice of so many friends around the world. To all, whether individuals, societies, or corporations who have supported us and continue to do so, may I ex-press my profound thanks from all in WGO and WGOF. Thank you all!
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