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WDHD 2012 Summary and a Glimpse into 2013

Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology: November/December 2012 - Volume 46 - Issue 10 - p i–iii
doi: 10.1097/MCG.0b013e3182702ae1

World Gastroenterology Organisation, WGO Foundation, Milwaukee, WI

The author declares there is nothing to disclose.

Reprints: Leah Kopp, World Gastroenterology Organisation, WGO Foundation, 555 East Wells Street, Suite 1100, Milwaukee, WI 53202 (e-mail:

Each year on May 29 the World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO) celebrates World Digestive Health Day (WDHD) to raise awareness about a particular digestive disease or problem. These campaigns seek to reach, not just gastroenterologists, but also other health care practitioners, as well as the general public. The theme for 2012 is “From Heartburn to Constipation—Common GI Symptoms in the Community: Impact and Interpretation.” The campaign involves >100 of the member national societies and regional affiliates of WGO and is promoted throughout the world. WGO, together with its Foundation, compiles a list of resources and media tools to support the campaign and, most importantly, coordinates the campaign with the launch of a corresponding Global Guideline. 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 constipation, probiotics-prebiotics (recently updated), IBS, IBD, and Helicobacter pylori infection. To further support the 2012 campaign, a new guideline titled “Coping with Common GI Symptoms in the Community; a Global Perspective,” is being created. This is the first WGO Global Guideline to focus on key GI symptoms (heartburn, abdominal discomfort, bloating, and constipation), rather than a specific disease entity. It is also unique in having 3 care levels in the Cascade approach: from pharmacist to primary care doctor, to specialist. This guideline will help the sufferer and the health care practitioner to better understand and manage these common but potentially troublesome and occasionally ominous GI complaints. It should foster a more rational and cost-effective approach to investigation and therapy of these symptoms regardless of the location and nature of the sufferer’s encounter with a health care provider. Along with international gastrointestinal and primary care experts, the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) has been involved in its creation.

With the assistance of many supporters and partners, numerous tools and resources have been created such as 10 Global Tips for Bloating, Constipation and Flatulence, a “Tummy Type Test”, Food Diary, Chronic Constipation Leaflet, Symptom Checker, and more. Again, many of these tools are available in various languages, including French and Romanian. Thanks to the contributions of a truly global Steering Committee, a special WDHD 2012 supplement has been created, with the theme being common GI symptoms from the perspective of their country. The Supplement, available on the WDHD website, includes such articles as a view from the Asian perspective, GI diseases in India, GI health from the pharmacist’s perspective, chronic constipation in the elderly, and more.

To date, >25 WGO National Member Societies and over 30 countries have taken part in WDHD 2012, hosting a record number of >100 events throughout the year. Events included public awareness campaigns, courses and lectures for health care professionals, national meetings, press conferences, creating a country’s own WDHD, publications, and much more. Many “firsts” took place during WDHD 2012 including collaboration with pharmacist groups, the creation of a WDHD-themed postcard including a special issue postage stamp in Romania, a very successful walkathon in India, the participation of many new countries such as Myanmar and Qatar, and patient awareness camps. WDHD 2012 also achieved an incredible reach through various media involvements including, for the first time, news stories on CNN. Highlights appeared in each issue of the quarterly e-WGN throughout 2012 as well as in the monthly WGO e-Alert. The following events highlight the creativity and reach involved in the 2012 WDHD Campaign.

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On May 29, the Uruguayan Society of Gastroenterology celebrated WDHD, developing an awareness event for the community at the entrance to the main shopping mall in Montevideo, the capital city. “The Path to a Healthier Life,” an educational activity, was created to increase knowledge about Common Gastrointestinal Symptoms. The event ran for 7 hours and was attended by 1400 people. A brochure with the 10 recommendations by WGO was distributed, and briefings were conducted. Different mass media attended the activity, television and radio interviews were held, and newspaper articles were published. Information and a video have been published on the website as well,

Mrs Fabiana De Ferrari, Danone, Prof Henry Cohen, WGO President, Dr Claudia Stefanoli, SGU Secretary General, and Dr Cristina Dacoll, SGU Past-President, visited the “The Path to a Healthier Life” during the event in Uruguay

Mrs Fabiana De Ferrari, Danone, Prof Henry Cohen, WGO President, Dr Claudia Stefanoli, SGU Secretary General, and Dr Cristina Dacoll, SGU Past-President, visited the “The Path to a Healthier Life” during the event in Uruguay

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On May 29, the Tamilnadu Chapter, Indian Society of Gastroenterology, celebrated WDHD by conducting a Walkathon in Ooty, a popular tourist destination in the region. The walk started at Jain temple and ended at the Nahar Hotel, and participants included doctors, eminent personalities, and the general public. After the walk, a public awareness program on Common Gastrointestinal Symptoms, such as heartburn and constipation, took place with experts in the field of gastroenterology. The experts included Dr K.R. Palaniswamy, Chennai; Dr Mohammed Ali, Chennai; Dr Venkatakrishnan, Coimbatore; and Dr K. Premkumar, Chennai.

Many newspaper articles were written about the event, as well as articles on digestive health. To read various articles in full, visit and

The Walkathon that took place in Ooty

The Walkathon that took place in Ooty

WDHD 2013: LIVER CANCER: Act Today. Save Your Life Tomorrow

Awareness. Prevention. Detection. Treatment.

Douglas R. LaBrecque, MD, FACP

University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine

Chairman, WDHD 2013

Founding Member, WGO Foundation

Chairman, WGO Hepatology Interest Group

Although the most common causes of liver cancer, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C are completely preventable and treatable, the World Health Organization reported that there were still approximately 700,000 deaths worldwide from primary liver cancer in 2008.1 More than 8 out of 10 (84%) cases occurred in developing countries.2 Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most common cancer worldwide, the third most common cause of death from cancer worldwide, and the number 1 killer in an increasing number of low-resource countries.

The WGO seeks to raise awareness of this growing health crisis and reduce the number of individuals affected by supporting the worldwide fight to bring recognition through education and training in this disease and its prevention and optimal management. WDHD 2013: “LIVER CANCER: Act Today. Save Your Life Tomorrow. Awareness. Prevention. Detection. Treatment.” will serve as the perfect opportunity. HCC will be addressed, as well as the disease entities and factors that predispose to HCC, including hepatitis B and C, aflatoxin, NASH, and excess dietary iron.

Prevention, early detection, treatment, and curability, supported by relevant epidemiological and clinical data, will be the main focus of the 2013 campaign. Through a multifaceted approach, to include local and regional campaigns and conferences, the WDHD 2013 campaign will endeavor to inform health care providers and the community at large of the prevalence, risk factors, and causes of liver cancer and to present an evidence-based and patient-centered approach to the prevention, detection, and treatment of HCC and its underlying causes. Regional conferences are currently planned for North America (United States), Latin America (Lima, Peru, during the annual meeting of the Latin American Liver Association), western Europe (Portugal), eastern Europe (Turkey, in conjunction with the annual Turkish Society of Gastroenterology Congress), north Africa, and the middle east (Cairo, Egypt), sub-Saharan Africa (South Africa), and east Asia. These efforts will also include worldwide activities on WDHD, May 29, 2013, and the local and regional campaigns and conferences referenced above, to be held throughout 2013.

At the national level, the WDHD campaign will take place through WGO’s National Member Societies and affiliate regional GI associations, which will organize their own individual WDHD campaigns and events. WGO will support national societies through the provision of related tools and promotion of their local and regional events. During the remaining months of 2012 and throughout 2013, the official campaign year, various important initiatives will take place. Key initiatives among these will be a survey that will be distributed at key liver meetings, as well as generally, to collect important global statistics on liver cancer and liver diseases in various regions, as well as hepatitis B vaccine policies and the implementation of these policies. The results and recommendations from these various initiatives will be presented in a major symposium during the next World Congress of Gastroenterology, Gastro 2013 WCOG/APDW in Shanghai between September 21 and 24, 2013. In addition, a broad range of educational offerings are being planned for presentation during the campaign year and beyond. A Steering Committee with a global perspective on liver cancer will provide guidance to WGO member organizations, with a special emphasis on lower-resource regions, with additional support from the WGO Global Guidelines and Cascades on hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HCC, NAFLD-NASH, Management of Acute Viral Hepatitis and Esophageal Varices.

The WGO looks forward in helping to provide a better understanding and recognition of the global burden of liver disease and liver cancer throughout 2013 and beyond. For more information, visit

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1. “Cancer.” World Health Organization. Media Center, n.d. February 2011. Available at:
2. “Liver Cancer.” News & Resources Homepage: Cancer Research UK. Cancer Research UK, September 19, 2011. Available at:
© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.