The report of the working groups of the Federation of the Societies of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (FISPGHAN) is a hallmark of the World Congress of federated societies that meets every 4 years.
FISPGHAN was envisioned as a forum to put together the efforts by experts of the world societies (the so-called sister societies) to ultimately improve the health of the digestive tract of children of the world. This general yet ambitious goal is pursued through several strategies; one is the report of FISPGHAN working groups, with the purpose to identify topics in need of implementation and discuss what needs to be done at the world level. The report is the result of a common work by experts of the sister societies and is presented at the world congress and published in print in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition (JPGN).
The report of the working groups has evolved with time and has reached the 4th edition. The first report, chaired by Ronald Sokol (1), was presented in Boston in 2000 as a “a global plan for the future of the digestive tract and nutritional health of children.” More than 150 scientists from the (then) 4 societies forming FISPGHAN took part to the job. A total of 20 different topics were selected (often very broad, such as inflammatory bowel disease or Helicobacter pylori infection) and described in the report. The report was essentially a state-of-the-art presentation, but also included goals and proposed plans to achieve the goals.
The next edition of the FISPGHAN working group in Paris in the year 2004 chaired by Guarino (2) included 18 topics and it was developed to define priorities in terms of scientific research, interventions, and education. The inclusion of education and clear identification of priorities were the major changes introduced to increase the practical effect of the report. The report was written as a global plan and included a broad pattern of issues, eventually covering most of the gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition areas.
The third report was presented in Iguazu in 2008 chaired by Belkind-Gerson (3), and was much more focused. The issues were only 8, and in addition to “what needed to be done,” it included some details on how the goals could be reached. In other words, the report included strategies to reach the objectives. Interestingly, in addition to the reduction in the number of issues from 20 to 8, the topics also changed to reflect the changing pattern of needs (Table 1). This change is important because it reflects the vision of qualified scientists on what are the needs and how to fulfill them to improve the health of children of the world. The report was published in JPGN for the first time with an open access policy and also translated into Spanish.
Now we are presenting the fourth edition of the report. In this edition, there are only 4 topics (Table 1) and they have been selected by a committee of the societies forming FISPGHAN. For each topic, the 3 top priorities in the fields of research, medical intervention, and education, respectively, were agreed upon by experts of the societies and they are clearly indicated in the abstract of each article. The supporting concept of the present report is to clearly indicate a limited number of clear issues in the areas of gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition and also in the area of “procedures and techniques” (that is also a major change in this present edition) in need of implementation. The report also includes specific priorities to drive investments of human and material resources. The intention is to drive attention, funds, and specific programs and initiatives toward the issues indicated by the experts.
It is interesting to see the evolution of topics that have been selected for the subsequent editions of the report. The readers can understand not only how problems have changed (but also problems that have not changed and remain a major priority or re-emerge as such), but also how the scientific community perceive them and indicate ways to face them. Often, new techniques or strategies have triggered issues in need of implementation, in that these new tools provided chances for implementation. In parallel, on a global scale, the scientific community has now the feeling that there is a need for a more “global” approach to face major problem. That is the way the report is being presented also outside the scientific environment and targets the public opinion, policy makers, academic and political institutions, regulatory bodies, and funding agencies. In this meeting, it was agreed that the report should be widespread outside FISPGHAN and delivered to agencies and institutions that may be interested in contributing to achieve the priorities that experts from all over the world have indicated. For the preparation of the report, the chairs of the 4 working groups convened in person to jointly discuss the content, the presentation, and the initiatives that could be undertaken to increase the effect of the report. It was agreed to focus on poorer countries, in keeping with the mission of FISPGHAN to promote the health of the digestive tract of children of the world. This is supported by the concept that improving the health of younger generations will ultimately translate into major growth of their countries.
The FISPGHAN task force, however, aims at reaching visible results and the huge effort is expected to drive interests and resources toward achievements that are considered essential to improve the health of the children of the world.
The major challenge is to transform the report in a true project, which implies the definition of time-related achievements for each of the priorities, and assess what it will be actually done in the next 4 years.
We count on the support of granting agencies, NGOs, and academic and nonacademic institutions, to reach the goal. With the present financial restraints and the need of coordinated interventions on a global scale, the FISPGHAN project provides a model for an unbiased, high-quality scientific, ethical, and practical approach. It has been generated in such an environment, in conjunction with a sense of respect for different cultural backgrounds and friendship.
1. Report of the first World Congress of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr
2. Guarino A. Report of the working groups of the second World Congress of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr
3. Belkind-Gerson J, Federation of International Societies for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition Working Group. Third FISPGHAN Working Group Reports: have we succeeded? J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr