Gut Matters for all at AGW 2018

GESA’s Australian Gastroenterology Week 2018 needs to be more than ‘talking amongst ourselves’ and has for the first time opened up the program to include sessions for GPs and general physicians.

It’s an initiative that Professor Jane Andrews says reinforces the Gut Matters theme of AGW and has the potential to be a valuable capacity builder for improved care of patients with gastroenterological conditions.

“I, and a lot of the other heads of units, do triage of referrals because most public hospitals get more referrals than we can appoint. So we became increasingly aware of a treatment gap or an access to care gap for people who might not be able to go and see someone privately in their rooms.”

“And GPs were asking questions that we thought we could answer in a more educative and general forum than on a one-to-one patient basis. So that hopefully people don’t necessarily have to wait to be seen at a public hospital outpatients department and instead, their GP can immediately do better assessment for common GI problems and get them started on care.”

“Certainly for hepatitis C, fatty liver disease, irritable bowel and functional dyspepsia, there is a lot that can be done in primary care to get people better quicker.”

Professor Andrews, Chair of the AGW Scientific Program Committee, told the limbic the launch of the new Colonoscopy Clinical Care Standards was of particular importance to all, not just gastroenterologists. (Monday, 8.30am)

“Bowel cancer screening is important for everybody in the community over 50 years and we need publicity around that so the general public has good health literacy about what can and should be done and also so that GPs are aware of the changes that are happening.”

The program includes acknowledgement of the increasing incidence of IBD in the developing world. (Sat, 1.30pm & Sun, 1.30pm)

“We’re been very aware of, on the epidemiological front, that as many countries get Westernised, we are seeing an increasing incidence of autoimmune conditions and from the gastroenterology point of view, IBD is a big one.”

“And the big challenge in those areas is knowing how to make a safe diagnosis of IBD and use immunosuppression, as opposed to making a diagnosis of a gastrointestinal infection and using an antibiotic.”

“Because if you get it wrong, there can be consequences. In addition, the cost of modern IBD care in developing nations is an issue.”

“And we have a really great speaker in Dr Rupa Banerjee from Hyderabad in India. She runs one of the biggest IBD centers in the world and she is doing this in a low cost environment.”

Professor Andrews said another international IBD expert featured on the program was Professor Severine Vermeire from Belgium, who was presenting the Bushell Lecture. (Sat, 10.45am)

She was also speaking on therapeutic drug monitoring in a session on getting the most from biologic therapy. (Sat, 4pm)

The session also included a debate on monotherapy versus combination therapy and how to de-escalate therapy.

“And these are where we are going now with what we know now about drug levels and treating to target. There are more nuances in care with a maturing of the field. We’ve had more emphasis on getting in early and treating hard but now we’ve got patients who are well, when is it safe to de-escalate and how do we do that?”

On request from trainees, AGW 2018 also includes ‘Finishing School’ for doctors nearing the end of their training or doing PhDs and fellowships. (Sat, 4pm)

“Younger GESA members said they wanted the opportunity to talk with experienced practitioners about what life is like beyond training, how to achieve various career goals, etcetera. We like to think we are being responsive and we will see how that goes.”

“We also have a GESA outreach session which is talking about the really great work that some of our members have organised and are achieving with volunteers workforces and donations in areas of less privilege in Australia and overseas in our near neighbours.” (Sun, 8.30am)

The AGW 2018 social program features the Women in Gastroenterology and Hepatology Breakfast (Mon 7.30am) and the AGW dinner. (Sun, 7pm)

AGW 2018 will be held in Brisbane from 8-10 September at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Follow the limbic’s coverage via the conference app and on Twitter at @thelimbicgastro

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