World Gastroenterology Organisation

Global Guardian of Digestive Health. Serving the World.


President's Message

Professor Geoffrey Metz Elected President of the World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO)

I would like firstly to acknowledge my predecessor Professor Guilherme Macedo for his outstanding achievements as President of WGO over the past two years. I have known Guilherme for nearly 20 years as a great physician, endoscopist, teacher and researcher, but also as a great leader who has achieved so much for his hospital, his university, his community, his national gastroenterology organization and, most recently, for world gastroenterology. All these accomplishments have been made possible through his enormous energy, tireless work ethic and his generosity of time and spirit. Guilherme exemplifies the old saying “if you want a big task done really well then give it to a really busy person!” Thank you Guilherme!

At the time this is being written, the WGO Executive Committee has just completed a two-day strategic planning meeting and I am delighted to report to you that after several years overshadowed by the constraints imposed on the whole world by the COVID-19 pandemic, the future is looking less constrained and, in fact, very exciting! For over 65 years, WGO has been in the unique situation of delivering information, education, advocacy and, more recently, research to a steadily increasing number of member societies. WGO now proudly encompasses 119 member societies and their 65,000 members stemming from high-, middle- and low-income countries. There are several organizations delivering excellent education packages to gastroenterologists in different regions around the globe. These colleagues are whom we have been collaborating with, and should continue to collaborate with, to deliver best practice gastroenterology and hepatology education for the benefit of all patients throughout the world.

For the first 40 years after the inception of our organization in 1958, WGO was best known for our World Congresses of Gastroenterology, covering every aspect of gastrointestinal (GI) medicine. We continue to plan World Congresses and international conferences in collaboration with our member societies throughout various locations and regions, but several of these meetings had to be postponed during the height of the COVID pandemic. Last year, I attended several GI conferences in the USA, England, Asia, and Australia and there is clearly a hunger for clinicians and researchers to reconnect at national and international meetings for learning, research development, networking and the rekindling of friendships that have sustained us all for decades.

I am therefore pleased to report that with the world reawakening post-COVID, and in collaboration with our member societies, WGO is now again preparing top-level meetings with excellent programs to be held in exciting destinations! All of these elements will surely come together with our next conference to be held in association with Société Marocaine Des Maladies de L'Appareil Digestif (SMMAD) from 7-9 November 2024 in the amazing city of Marrakech, Morocco. Our Scientific Programs Committee under the chairmanship of Professor Jonathan Leighton from the Mayo Clinic is developing an outstanding program which will be completed and advertised shortly.

Our Train the Trainers (TTT) program was first developed by Professor James Toouli 23 years ago to deliver the most up-to-date and effective education modules to mid-career colleagues involved in teaching and training our younger trainees. Initially, we held one course in English each year limited to 50 registrants. The program has become so successful that it is now delivered two or three times each year and is always oversubscribed from applicants wishing to attend. Part of the global appeal of TTT is the course’s ability to be offered in multiple languages. TTT has been offered in English, Spanish, French, and for the first time later this year, Portuguese! Our most recent course was held this February in Kolkata, India. I send my thanks and sincerest gratitude to the Indian Society of Gastroenterology (ISG), Professors Mahesh Goenka and Govind Makharia for hosting us, and to Professor Kelly Burak and his faculty for delivering yet another outstanding TTT event. Over 1,300 of our colleagues from over 100 countries have now been through our Train the Trainers program and all enthusiastically report that it has improved their teaching, training skills and thereby the training of their trainees. “Graduates” of the TTT program tell us our program has “changed their lives” and certainly it elevates the quality of the training they deliver to trainees in every country throughout the world. If you are serious about training, you should consider attending a TTT course!

Those of you who trained in gastroenterology 20 or more years ago will recall that the brightest trainees from low- or middle-income countries usually traveled to high income countries for their specialist training and very often, after completion of their training, they never returned to their country of origin, adding to the so-called “international brain drain.” We can be very proud of the fact that over the past 20 years WGO has developed Training Centers (TCs) in strategic cities around the world to train young aspiring gastroenterologists and hepatologists from around their region. The TC graduates nearly always remain in their region for the benefit of patients where they are needed the most and reversing the “brain drain.” The number of TCs has steadily grown to 24 TCs currently, for the enormous benefit of patients in those regions.

WGO has many other important and unique activities including our Global Guidelines and Cascades, World Digestive Health Day and we will soon be launching its knowledge hub, the WGO Academy. More details to come about those later! Does this mean that WGO can now rest, satisfied that “the job is done?” Well, no! In recent years, WGO colleagues have been at the forefront of interest, research, and education in relation to developing areas including the microbiome, the brain-gut axis and neuro-gastroenterology and promotion of women in GI. In 2023, WGO produced four excellent webinars on Women in GI under the direction of Professors Naima Amrani (Morocco) and Carolina Olano (Uruguay).

Since 2015, WGO has had increasing interest in climate change and its impact on GI diseases. Over the past three years we have created a separate committee on climate change and have developed strong and effective collaborations with the world’s leaders in the field. These relationships resulted in the culmination of a series of nine webinars last year under the direction of Professor Desmond Leddin from Canada. Also over the last few years, our Hepatology Committee under the guidance of Professor Nancy Reau produced several excellent webinars. All of these webinars can be viewed on our website and eventually through the WGO Academy. Are there other areas of gastroenterology in need of further development? Well, yes! Pancreatic diseases are increasingly prevalent and a burden on health. The incidence of pancreatic cancer is rising rapidly, and we have strong evidence that chronic pancreatitis is significantly underdiagnosed, yet few organizations have pancreatic diseases front and center in relation to their activities.

Similarly, nutrition is an area of medicine which would appear at first glance to involve many sub-specialty areas including cardiology (hyperlipidemia), endocrinology (diabetes), surgery (obesity) and dietetics as well as genetic, infectious and inflammatory sub-specialties. However, when considering nutrition and malnutrition, the natural home for overall management should surely be gastroenterology, drawing together the multiple clinical conditions impacting nutrition and malnutrition. If any of you have a special interest already and would like to explore the development of WGO into either rapidly growing area, please contact WGO at with a very brief outline of your current interest and we will explore developing a working group.

It is an enormous honor and privilege to serve as your president over the next two years. I am committed to working long and hard to promote WGO for the benefit of our member societies and our patients worldwide.


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