Each year on May 29 World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO) celebrates World Digestive Health Day (WDHD) to raise awareness about a particular digestive or liver disease. These campaigns seek to reach not just gastroenterologists and hepatologists, but other health care practitioners, as well as the general public. The theme for 2013 is “LIVER CANCER: Act Today. Save Your Life Tomorrow. Awareness. Prevention. Detection. Treatment.” The campaign involves more than 100 of WGO’s national member societies and regional affiliates and is promoted throughout the world. WGO, together with its Foundation, compiles a list of resources and media tools to support the campaign, along with a selection of Global Guidelines. This year, several WGO Global Guidelines provided support to the WDHD campaign—each incorporating not just the unique Cascade approach, but also translation into languages such as Portuguese, Mandarin, French, Russian, and Spanish. Relevant guidelines have included those on Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), Hepatitis B, Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis, Management of acute viral hepatitis, and Esophageal varices. To further support the 2013 campaign, a new guideline on Hepatitis C was developed earlier this year.
In 2013, a record number of partners supported and promoted the campaign, leading to an incredible global reach. Thanks to the contributions of a truly global Steering Committee, a special WDHD 2013 supplement was created, with the theme being Liver Cancer in Your Country. The Supplement, available on the 2013 WDHD Web site, includes articles with views from South Africa, Brazil, Egypt, Pakistan, Argentina, Italy, Russia, Venezuela, India, and Portugal.
To date, 15 countries participated in WDHD 2013, with over 65 recorded events. Events included public awareness campaigns, walkathons, health check-up camps, courses and lectures for health care professionals, national meetings, press conferences, creating a country’s own WDHD, media activities, and much more. Highlights appeared in each issue of the quarterly e-WGN throughout 2013 as well as the monthly WGO e-Alert. The following events highlight only a few of the exciting and creative events that took place during the 2013 WDHD Campaign.
Information on HCC received a great amount of attention in the media in Canada, primarily because of the release of the Canadian Cancer Society’s annual report, with a special section recognizing the 3× increase in liver cancer in men and the 2× increase in liver cancer in women since 1970. The Canadian Cancer Society released a press release noting the WDHD 2013 campaign, and the overall story made national TV and newspapers and was in the top news story on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation news.
During the same week, the University of Calgary Liver Unit launched their new automated HCC screening program. A postcard describing the program was mailed out to 5000 physicians in Calgary, and a very successful continuing medical education event with the general practitioners of the Mosaic Primary Care Network took place earlier in the week. One third of the general practitioners who practice in north-east Calgary, where the majority of the immigrant population lives, attended this event. The meeting reviewed screening, diagnosis, and management of both viral hepatitis and HCC, and soon a new outreach clinic will be launched to better serve the immigrant population, who has a high burden of viral hepatitis, but does not access the facilities at the University.
The University of Chile Clinical Hospital conducted different types of initiatives to spread the May 29 WDHD celebration, established by the WGO. The Hospital, as an entity providing health plus educational functions, has a commitment to inform the public about various topics related to health and quality of life. Therefore, this year they established the month of May as the period to talk about digestive health and bring people different information. The Department of Communications created a special Web site (http://www.redclinica.cl), with 8 articles on digestive health which discussed several issues of interest to the population. The subjects were selected from common concerns of users and had much impact on the social networks.
In an effort to increase communication to allow more people to access highly relevant content, the Communications Department of the Hospital Clinic produced a video which involved leading experts on the topic of this year. Drs Javier Brahm (Gastroenterology Section Chief), Juan Carlos Diaz (Head Transplant Unit), Ivan Gallegos (Head Pathology Service) appeared in the production, and spoke about HCC. Considering the current communication platforms often used by the population, the University of Chile Clinical Hospital decided to innovate by sending cellular text messaging focused on liver cancer. The company in charge of sending messages was MOB.ID, which assisted in getting the following May 29 message to 8420 people: “U Chile Clinical Hospital reports: alcohol, obesity, and certain viruses may cause cirrhosis and liver cancer.”
- (1) The Indian National Association for Study of Liver (INASL), the highest body of liver specialists in the country, has constituted the INASL Task Force on HCC to generate consensus on India-specific diagnosis and management of the cancer.
- The Task Force has 18 members representing the major centers managing HCC with Head of Gastroenterology, AIIMS, New Delhi, Professor S. K. Acharya at the helm as chairman. The first round table discussion on devising strategies for countering the surge of primary liver cancer in the population was held in Puri recently.
- The Task Force would work towards defining the epidemiology of HCC in India, risk factors for the disease, while suggesting surveillance mechanisms and preventive measures. It will also strive to integrate screening mechanisms to detect HCC early while formulating guidelines for staging of the cancer along with management and therapeutic modalities.
- (2) The Tamilnadu Chapter of the Indian Society of Gastroenterology held a Public Awareness Program, Taking steps for a healthy tomorrow, on May 26. The program began with a walkathon followed by a public program with experts in the field of gastroenterology. The experts included Drs K. Raghuram, K. R. Palaniswamy, V. Balasubramanian, L. Thayumanavan, Mohammad Ali, Usha Srinivas, N. Murugan, K. Premkumar, and Rajasundaram.
Within the framework of the celebration of the WDHD, The Société Marocaine des Maladies de l’Appareil Digestif and the WGO Training Center of Rabat, organized a day of information and education on June 1 about the liver cancer under the aegis of the Foundation LALLA SALMA pour la Prévention et Traitement des cancers.
The program contained a scientific Round Table intended for the hepatogastroenterologists and a sensitization of the civil society on liver cancer, by insisting on the prevention of this disease. This raising awareness was assured by interviews of the SMMAD President Professor Rhimou Alaoui with 5 channels of national radios. Similarly a press release signed by the SMMAD was broadcasted by newspapers. A file of health on HCC is under press by the newspaper “ITTIHAD EL CHTIRAQUI” and will be published Monday, June 24, 2013.
The main recommendation adopted during this day was to create a register with special HCC index form according to the diagnostic specificities of this cancer. The SMMAD board makes a commitment to work with the Foundation for the implementation of the HCC register.
On the morning of February 2, 2013, an awareness, screening, and vaccination camp was arranged jointly by AIMS Hospital and AGA KHAN HEALTH Services. The Chief Minister of the program for the prevention and treatment of hepatitis B and hepatitis C management team screened 1000 people and the first vaccine was inoculated to an HBSAg-negative subject.
Professor Sadik Memon from (ISRA) AIMS Hospital delivered a comprehensive talk regarding the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) management. The majority of people who came were HBV or HCV positive, and Professor Memon offered free consultations to them. Dr Tahir, Dr, Saghar, and Dr Sikandar worked day and night for the arrangement of this camp, and Mr Adeel Khan, marketing manager of AIMS hospital, distributed awareness materials regarding chronic Hepatitis “B” and “C” both in Urdu and Sindhi.
From May through September of this year, many events have taken place and will continue to take place in Khartoum. The Sudanese Society of Gastroenterology has conducted media awareness through different television programs as well as radio and newspapers. The Society has had monthly meetings on the topic of hepatitis B awareness and HCC prevention, various meetings with health authorities along with the World Health Organization in Sudan, to hold discussions on implementing the prevention measures. A meeting was held on September 14 on hepatitis B awareness and HCC prevention: What we did, and what should be done. The various WDHD activities have reached medical students, doctors, Sudanese Society of Gastroenterology members, the media, health authorities, the World Health Organization, and politicians.
WGO Announces the 2014 WDHD Theme!
The WDHD theme in 2014, led by Professor Francisco Guarner, Spain, is “GUT MICROBES: Importance in Health and Disease.” Watch http://www.wgofoundation.org and WGO publications as more information, tools, and resources become available in the coming weeks!