28 WORLD GASTROENTEROLOGY NEWS JANUARY 2016 Gastro 2015: AGW-WGO | Expert Point of View | Gastro 2016: EGHS-WGO | WDHD News | WGO & WGOF News | WGO Global Guidelines | Calendar of Events Honorees at the Opening Ceremony. Attendees demonstrate their skills on the countries who had previously spent time training in South Africa now returning for the congress along with some colleagues. Clearly, relationships are building and the SAGES congress is becoming a focal point on the Afri-can gastroenterology calendar. There were an unprecedented num-ber of abstracts submitted in 2015. It was interesting to note that almost ev-erybody seems to be involved in some kind of research. Presenters included medical students, medical scientists, dieticians, and gastroenterologists in private practice. This bodes well for the future of academic gastroenterol-ogy, not just in South Africa, but also the rest of Africa, as reflected by some excellent papers from north of our borders. In addition to the scientific pro-gram, SAGES also hosted an Inflam-matory Bowel Disease (IBD) Patient Information Meeting and a Gastro-enterology Update for our colleagues in general / family practice as part of the congress. The IBD information meeting is an initiative of Dr. David Epstein with the support of SAGES and is aimed at providing valuable evidence based education as well as support to patients with IBD. The Gastroenterology Update featured a great assortment of topics. We took advantage of the combined nature of the congress and included topics from pediatrics, pediatric surgery, general surgery, and definitely a good chunk of gastroenterology, including a talk on IBD by Dr. Ailsa Hart. It was satisfying see the superb attendance at the update as it can be challenging to get busy general practitioners (GPs) to a weekend meeting, particularly in the relaxed coastal city of Durban. Feedback from GP colleagues has been positive and a desire that SAGES continues to organize these updates whenever the congress rolls into town. The social aspect of medical con-gresses cannot be overlooked. A casual conversation between sessions may lead to future educational ventures, collegial advice, and collaborative research. During these “breaks” del-egates spent time discussing the latest innovations with industry represen-tatives at the lovely exhibition hall. ASSA-SAGES have been fortunate to have incredible industry support which was integral to the success of the congress. One highlight of the congress was no doubt the gala din-ner. It is a chance to dress smartly, say thank you, award prizes, and demon-strate non-endoscopic psychomotor skills on the dance floor. A personally pleasing aspect was the inauguration of Professors KA Newton and SR Thomson as presidents of SAGES and ASSA respectively. Both of these indi-viduals were involved in my gastroen-terology training. One can anticipate that these two societies will continue to grow, communicate, and collabo-rate with these experienced captains at the helm. Hopefully delegates also had a chance to experience the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, stroll along the beachfront, and sample the famous Durban bunny chow (curry inside a hollowed out loaf of bread) and any of the other city attractions. The morning session of the last day of the congress was devoted to aspects of liver transplantation. There is a dire need for improved access to this service in South Africa. It is regret-table that the country that performed the first successful heart transplant currently struggles to offer this service dance floor at the Gala Dinner. to the majority of its population. There is no denying that resources must be rationally used for the great-est good. However, there remains a place for developing what some may consider “high-end medicine” so as to ensure that these skills are retained and developed. As primary health care improves, what then becomes of the patients that need such expertise? The last day also allowed delegates to at-tend medico-legal and ethics talks. It has become increasingly important for clinicians to engage with these aspects of medicine as keeping up with the literature. Finally, this congress owes an enormous debt of gratitude to the event organizer (Denise Kemp and the Eastern Sun Events team) and the SAGES secretary (Karin Fenton). The level of professionalism and dedica-tion displayed consistently exceeded our expectations. The inflated local organizing committee (inflated due to multiple society representatives) must also give thanks to the guidance of the two congress chairs (Professors KA Newton and TE Madiba) who kept us on course throughout the journey. It was not all smooth sailing, but we reached our destination safely and had a fantastic congress.
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