Our gut microbiome contains tens of trillions of microorganisms and over 1,000 known species of bacteria,1 all of which have many important functions within the human body. Not surprisingly, there has been considerable interest and even more speculation on the role that gut microorganisms might play in health and disease and we, as gastroenterologists are often called upon to interpret, on behalf of our patients, the latest findings from basic and clinical research. To help us to sift through and assess this vast, complex, at times confusing and ever-increasing body of literature and provide some guidance to the practicing clinician and his/her patient, the World Gastroenterology Organization selected the Gut Microbiome as the focus of the 2020 World Digestive Health Day campaign.
By increasing awareness worldwide of the role that the gut microbiome may have in diagnosis, and how it can be modulated to treat disease and allay symptoms, we can affect overall human health, in particular, among low- and middle-income countries. The WGO global network of WGO member societies, partners, and sponsors is ideally positioned to work with WGO to raise the level of awareness.
WGO will seek to raise awareness of the function of the gut microbiome through its annual public advocacy and awareness campaign, World Digestive Health Day. WDHD is celebrated each year on 29th May with associated events, activities, and initiatives continuing throughout and beyond the campaign year. WDHD will provide all those who care for individuals afflicted by gastrointestinal disorders, as well as the lay public with an understanding of the latest basic and clinical research in the gut microbiome and what it means for their well-being. This campaign will endeavor to inform physicians, pharmacists, allied health professionals, healthcare payors, and the public of the importance of the gut microbiome to overall health. Most especially, we want to ensure that we present information about the gut microbiome in a way that makes it clear what the benefits are and, in doing so, to counter misinformation about the gut microbiome.
WGO’s task is supported by a Steering Committee with a global perspective. The Steering Committee provides expertise on the gut microbiome, guides the course of the campaign, and develops educational and training materials. In collaboration with WGO Member Societies, WGO Training Centers and Regional Affiliate Associations, the Steering Committee develops this global initiative and provides the resources to sustain the effort throughout the year.
Through a multi-faceted campaign, WGO will provide simple messages for the general public in order to assist them in understanding how the gut microbiome affects the health of, not only the digestive systems, but the entire body. Secondly, WGO will develop information for healthcare professionals with an emphasis on those in low-resource, developing regions of the world. Multiple informational pieces are planned and will be distributed worldwide, for patients and healthcare professionals alike. Through the WDHD 2020 campaign, WGO looks forward to providing a better understanding of the gut microbiome. Your participation, through educating the public, encouraging participation in informational programs and promoting healthy lifestyle, is crucial for the success of this campaign.
Co-Chair, WDHD 2020
Eamonn Quigley, MD
Co-Chair, WDHD 2020
Uday Ghoshal, MD
1: “Gut Microbiota Info.” Gut Microbiota for Health, European Society for Neurogastroenterology & Motility, www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com/en/about-gut-microbiota-info/.