Klaus MatzelWe talked to Professor Klaus Matzel, (Professor of Surgery and the Head of the Section of Coloproctology at the University of Erlangen, Germany) about a new session 'Activities in Coloproctology around the Globe' that took place at this year’s meeting in Milan…

“The new session has several goals: Firstly we like to create awareness among our member which kind of activities – sometimes not so obvious – are going on around the global in Colorectal surgery. Secondly we like to offer those a platform, who are yet not connected, to our Society in Europe and let them know that there is a interest from our site in what they are doing. Lastly, we hope that this exchange of ideas will offer opportunities, future collaborations etc.”

The 'Activities in Coloproctology around the Globe' session will be held on Wednesday 28th September and will include two invited two speakers: Dr Fekade Ayenachew and Professor Paul Goldberg.

“We decided on these topics, because both speakers will address very important issues,” explained Professor Matzel. “They both have remarkable stories to share of how they are addressing an urgent need of their relevant populations, which we believe deserves both out recognition and requires our support. Both speakers will give us the opportunity to expand our understanding, knowledge and expertise.”

The first speaker, Dr Fekade Ayenachew, is an internationally known and very skilled senior fistula surgeon, who has been responsible for managing complicated cases, like high and iatrogenic obstetric fistula, ureteric injuries and high rectovaginal fistulae, and who is also able to deal with complex urological issues.

For many years, he has been working for ‘Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’, a well-known charitable organisation in the country, which operates the world’s largest network of hospitals providing care for obstetric fistula patients. After running one of the five satellite centres in Yirgalem for three years, he now is the medical director of the main hospital in Addis Ababa, where all the major and complicated cases are treated, since 2012.

Besides his many skills he is a highly regarded trainer of trainers in obstetric fistula surgery and an accredited trainer for the global competency based obstetric fistula surgical training programme by FIGO (International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics).

The second speaker, Professor Paul Goldberg, is Head of the Colorectal Unit at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa. He is involved in an interesting cancer screening program in a remote area of South Africa, where a hereditary form of colorectal cancer was detected around the mid-eighties. A mutation was identified in the hLMH1 gene (C1528T) that was causing the disease and Paul established a colorectal cancer screening program in 1994 with an annual trip to the population, which otherwise would not have access to adequate surveillance. The original family is now in excess of 1,500 people on pedigree with over 200 mutation positives and 15 satellite families with the same mutation.

The program now has about 50 other disease causing mutations in more than 500 families under management. This outreach service has raised awareness of the disease amongst these remote communities and has resulted in adding an average of 20 years to the life expectancy of these mutation positive individuals.

“Of course, we will have to wait and see what the speakers will present, however I have no doubt that they will present what has been accomplished by the initiatives of single individuals and individual institutions, how this developed over the years, what the impact on the target population is and how this relates to the way we do colorectal surgery in our part of the world,” he added. “There is little doubt that access to resources, funding and the need for equipment and personal are common themes, not only in the projects to be presented, but also in other similar endeavours. It will be fascinating to understand how such limitations are overcome.”

“As this is a new format at our meeting, we do not yet have an established pathway to submit ideas, but we are open for suggestions,” said Professor Matzel. “If you are interested, I think the easiest way is to talk to us, to the members of the Education Committee of the ESCP, to the members of the Programme Committee and to the other members, who are actively involved in any committee.

“Another part of the new ESCP initiative “Going Global” is the funding of a three month fellowship, which is dedicated to colleagues from outside Europe and aims to offer an opportunity to visit a European centre of their interest,” he concluded. “If members are interested in applying for this fellowship, I would encourage them to contact the ESCP for more information.”

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