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World Gastroenterology Organisation
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The Healthy Stomach Initiative

Peter Malfertheiner, MD

Peter Malfertheiner, MD
Director of the Department of Gastroenterology
University Hospital Magdeburg A.ö.R.
Magdeburg, Germany

The Healthy Stomach Initiative (HSI) was created by a group of clinical researchers with a special interest in the stomach – in health and in cases of diseases. Compared to other organs in the digestive tract (i.e. colon, liver) these specialists viewed overall activities and education events for a healthy stomach – in regards to preventive measures in fighting gastric cancer – neglected. Particularly with the discovery of H. pylori as the key gastric pathogen, the prerogatives have been set to detect and eliminate the trigger of gastric tumor genesis and other  gastroduodenal pathologies. The stomach is recognized for its central role in orchestrating digestive function and for participating in the control of food intake by interfering with mechanism of appetite and satiety. The knowledge about all the factors resulting in damage of the gastric mucosal integrity (H. pylori, Aspirin and non-steroidal inflammatory drugs in particular) significantly enlarged the necessity to create awareness to the public.

The primary aim of HSI is the dissemination of knowledge about how to keep the stomach healthy and how to help when the stomach is  affected by disease. The first public awareness event of this kind was held during the UEGW 2013 in Berlin.

The event took place in the heart of Berlin, where the flow of visitors is estimated to be around 30,000/day. The set up was a large stomach model with information booths around it. The size of this organ replica allowed visitors to step inside the stomach and to learn about anatomical structures, gastric functions and gastric diseases, including peptic ulceration and gastric neoplasias. Medical and paramedical staff of the University Otto-von-Guericke, Magdeburg assisted the public by explaining and educating. Movie clips, poster walls and medical staff at info booths provided information about:

  1. Nutrition and Lifestyle: measures to maintain a healthy stomach
  2. General prevention, cancer prevention: Explanation of functional gastric disorders and diseases, breath and serological tests, H. pylori, gastric atrophy
  3. Diagnostic: non-invasive tests, endoscopy
  4. Treatment: gastric protection, acid suppression, H. pylori eradication, phytotherapy, probiotica

To illustrate the options for H. pylori testing, 13C-UBT breath tests were offered to visitors. Furthermore illustrations and practical demonstrations about serological testing and endoscopic investigations were presented and leaflets with take-home messages of healthy foods were available.

The one-day event was enriched by short lectures on “gastric topics,” lively interactions with the public and acting scenarios “doctor – patient.” Leading authorities in Gastroenterology from all over the world participated throughout the day and provided TV interviews on specific needs and activities in their countries. The positive feedback of this first-time HSI public awareness event was exceptional and encourages the HSI to continue its campaigns throughout different regions in the world. The next event is planned in Vienna during the UEGW in October 2014.

In addition to the HSI public awareness events, it is the mission of the HSI to provide a platform for clinical multi-centric research initiatives and issue updates on topics pertaining to the stomach. The HSI organizes regular “group of interest” meetings during the DDW, UEGW and at the APDW. The “group of interest” meetings offer unique opportunities for exchange for researchers, clinicians and industries. For more information please visit www.hsinitiative.org.