World Congress of Gastroenterology

World Congress of Gastroenterology

September 14, 2005 09:39 ET

The Future of Worldwide Gastroenterology: Still a Lot of Ground to Cover

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(CCNMatthews - Sept. 14, 2005) - At the end of the 13th World Congress of Gastroenterology that was held at the Palais des Congres from September 10 to 14, numerous opinions were put forward as to where the worldwide practice of gastroenterology should set foot in the coming years.

Experts from around the world discussed which major diseases should become prevalent in terms of treatment during the next decade given the demographic change of the world population over this period of time. According to Dr. Guido Tytgat from The Netherlands, the world will see more types of gastrogenic diseases developing in the elderly population. This will constitute a major challenge for gastroenterologists. It has also been suggested that liver transplant age limits be stretched to include elderly patients.

As far as Hepatitis B and C were concerned, hepatologist Dr. Jenny Heathcote from Canada said that they represent the biggest killers. "Hepatitis B can be prevented entirely", she reminded her colleagues. "But to reach that 100% result, it is us, physicians, who have to change things. We have to stop waiting for politics to change the way things are. It will never happen unless we do it ourselves."

A child dies every five seconds

Another priority set forth by Dr. Richard Norton, from the United Kingdom, also Editor of The Lancet, is the causes leading to diarrhea in underdeveloped countries and their sad effects on under-five mortality. "A child dies every five seconds and a cholera epidemic is presently sweeping through West Africa. This is the 150th anniversary of the first record of ... trying to control cholera but we still don't know how to beat this disease. We have to address the issue of under-five mortality. Death rate is phenomenal but it is still an unmet and neglected issue."

"We should also pay closer attention to the increasing number of adults dying from diarrhea in these areas", added Dr. Michael Farthing also from the United Kingdom. "New vaccines for rotovirus and cholera are on the two- to three-year horizon. Meanwhile, a more immediate solution to control this disease essentially lies in the hand of world leaders."

Global guidelines for a global practice

Gastroenterologists also asked themselves whether global guidelines to manage their work would be desirable, feasible and necessary. "Desirable? Yes", said Dr. Norton. "Feasible? Hardly", responded Dr. Loren Laine, from Los Angeles. "The implementation of certain recommendations just may not be feasible when you look at the kind of tools it would take to communicate, disseminate and control the information in order to reach everybody, with respect to the cultural difference of each and everyone."

According to Dr. Laine, results would vary too much for every guideline because each location has different resources and equipment to work with. Despite the objection raised by Dr. Laine, her colleague Dr. Suliman Fedail, from Sudan, believes that such guidelines are necessary to "prevent the overload of non-discriminated information that developing-nation doctors get on the Internet or from many companies and training programs. There would be a common touchtone from which to operate."

The Outreach Program beneficiaries

One of the salutary examples of globalisation of the gastroenterological practice has been given by developing countries testimonies. These countries were awarded state-of-the-art equipment and instrumentation thanks to the Outreach Program. It was the case last year of the Eva PerOn Teaching Hospital in Rosario, Argentina, that received endoscopic equipment allowing its staff to increase procedures by more than 80%. In January 2005, Burkina Faso received $20 millions worth of equipment including videoscopes, an electrosurgical unit and endotherapy devices.

The World Congress of Gastroenterology periodically brings together experts from around the world. The organisation that is holding it represents more than 50,000 gastroenterologists worldwide. Each year, they expose and share their breakthroughs and thought on social, economical and financial stakes relating to the digestive system health.

Contact Information

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    Pierre Bouchard
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