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World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO) News and Events

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Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology: February 2021 - Volume 55 - Issue 2 - p I-II
doi: 10.1097/MCG.0000000000001486
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World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO) is pleased to feature the important work of our training centers around the world. Highlighted here are stories from South Africa and Myanmar. More can be found on our website at

The WGO Training Center mission is to establish and nurture core training centers for primary and advanced gastroenterology and liver training in locations of need, thereby improving the standard of training at a grass roots level while ensuring a focus on regionally-relevant diseases.

Colin Noel, MD

Universitas Academic Hospital

Bloemfontein, South Africa

In the stunning surroundings of Stellenbosch, on the January 17, 2020, Spier would once again host the 11th Annual Gastro Foundation Fellows weekend. The much anticipated weekend far exceeded the expectations of every Fellow who attended. One thing about the Cape and Stellenbosch region is that when it wants to show off its beauty, it is almost impossible to top. The Gastroenterology Foundation of South Africa could not have got it better in any way, and it was an incredible privilege to attend the weekend. The weekend started with fellows in gastroenterology making their way down to Cape Town International Airport, not only from all over South Africa but also from our neighboring northern countries. The logistics around fight cancellations and last minute rescheduling (largely because of the crisis at our national carrier airline) were all met with smiles and a level of organization that can only come from a very dedicated team. On landing, we were promptly met by our transport shuttle and taken off to the beautiful Spier Hotel and Conference Centre. After a quick cup of coffee and breakfast snacks we gathered in the conference center and were welcomed by a passionate Prof. Chris Kassianides, the chairman and founding member of the Gastroenterology Foundation of Sub-Saharan Africa. It was clear from the outset how passionate his team is and how privileged we were to be there. The introduction of the academic speakers, guest speakers and the program as a whole vividly reaffirmed this notion. The morning talks covered a number of broad topics relevant to all disciplines of gastroenterology.

Dr Adam Boutall (who is arguably one of the most entertaining speakers) started off by covering large bowel obstruction and, as usual, left most of the fellows feeling like they somehow had finally grasped a topic that they had spent previous hours poring over in a little under 15 minutes. The rest of the morning sessions addressed chronic pancreatitis, hilar cholangiocarcinoma, liver associated enzyme abnormalities, liver transplant, IBD, and the very entertaining “difficult colonoscopy.”

As in previous years, the fellows were then split into 2 groups for the afternoon sessions. HPB and upper gastrointestinal tract surgeons formed one group and the physicians and colorectal surgeons the other. Every topic seems to have been carefully selected and opened itself up to academic discussions that went on well beyond the lectures and into the evening. As per tradition, the evening academia ended off with the very entertaining Team Quiz. Quizmasters, Prof. Jake Krige and Prof. Ed Jonas, tested the general knowledge of the fellows on a variety of topics. Despite most of the surgeons being disadvantaged by the ratio of history-related questions to sport-related questions, we were fortunate enough to have an outlier, and I am proud to report that it was a surgical team who won honors in the end. This may have been because of the fact that bribes were accepted and that a surgical team was responsible for marking the winning teams answers. At the end of the first day, dinner was met with great conversation, numerous newly made friendships and outstanding vino from the region. The late evening was followed soon after with a morning run through the Spier vineyards. It was a great opportunity to spend some time with leaders in the field of gastroenterology on a more personal level away from academia.

On Saturday, Fellows were given the opportunity to work in small groups where relevant topics using case reports as references were discussed. The fellows split up into 4 groups, namely HPB and upper gastrointestinal tract, colorectal, medical gastroenterology, and pediatric gastroenterology. This was incredibly valuable just before exams and afforded one the opportunity to address areas of controversy and new developments. That evening, the fellows and delegates were addressed by guest speakers Prof. Jonathan Jansen and Dr Anthony Beeton. These esteemed guest speakers’ much anticipated addresses lived up to every expectation. Prof. Jonathan Jansen’s thought provoking address “The dilemmas of race in medical science research,” was followed by Dr Anthony Beeton’s address “Error, Disclosure and Approach to the Dissatisfied Patient.”

Sunday morning was a chance to consolidate. Highlights included lectures from Prof. Vernon Louw on iron physiology, Dr Anthony Beeton on Patient Blood Management and an incredible account from Prof. Jean Botha on “The aging surgeon and our responsibilities.” The variety yet direct relevance of all the guest speakers’ topics to those in the medical field was something very unique to this weekend’s program. The weekend concluded at midday on Sunday the 19th. Only established in 2006, it is difficult to understand how The Gastroenterology Foundation of South Africa has managed to succeed and surpass its aim in such a short time. The Fellows weekend was outstanding in every way. New friendships were forged and the contributions from leading experts and mentors in gastroenterology will shape the new generation’s practices for years to come. South Africa can be proud of a foundation that is truly contributing to the academic excellence in the field of gastroenterology. We thank Prof. Chris Kassianides, all the experts who generously gave of their time and knowledge, the entire team behind the Gastroenterology Foundation of South Africa, the guest speakers, Karin Fenton, Bini Seale, and all the sponsors for their incredibly generous contributions.

Su Su Hlaing, MD

Yangon General Hospital

Yangon, Myanmar

The Myanmar Training Center was inaugurated on March 16, 2015. It is situated at the Department of Gastroenterology, Yangon General Hospital (YGH). YGH, with 2000 beds, is the main teaching hospital of the University of Medicine 1 Yangon. In 2015, there were a total of four postgraduate students in gastroenterology. There are now 7 students. Apart from an active postgraduate specialty program, the Center also arranges short courses in endoscopy. There is a regular 1-month basic endoscopy course for surgeons, physicians, and nurses from district hospitals since 2015.

Moreover, teams of doctors and nurses from the Center also visit larger regional hospitals with endoscopy units. For example, in 2019, teachers visited 3 hospitals, including Loikaw, the capital of Kayah State and the East Yangon General Hospital.

The Center maintains teaching links internationally. Visits in 2019 were from the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG), APSDE (Asian Pacific Society of Digestive Endoscopy), AEG (Asian EUS Group), and ANBIG (Asian Novel Bio-Imaging and Intervention Group). Lectures and hands on teaching are provided. Topics have included endoscopic ultrasound and ERCP. Doctors and nurses from our sister gastroenterology units around Myanmar are invited to attend these workshops.

Consultants and fellows from the Center have also attended overseas meetings including DDW and APDW annually. In the February of 2020 the Center arranged WGO-supported annual educational activities. A total of 40 doctors and 30 nurses attended, who came from 6 districts and 6 Yangon Hospital. Topics included the writing of the Endoscopy report, bowel preparation for colonoscopy and CRC screening. In addition, hands on colonoscopy teaching was provided by Professor Thein Myint (University of Medicine 1), Professor Than Than Aye (University of Medicine 2), and Professor Moe Myint Aung (University of Medicine Mandalay) and did frank discussion. The training was targeted for beginners. They can apply the experience and knowledge to their patients gained from this activities. We are grateful for the financial support of the WGO.

Prof. Moe Myint Aung, a Co-Director of the Center, has been promoted to the position of Head of the Department of Gastroenterology at the Mandalay General Hospital. We extend warm greetings and Metta to colleagues worldwide!

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