Knowledge is power: funding helps patients take back control of their gut

Dr. James Gray, Health Minister Terry Lake, Jonathan Abbey, Gail Attara, Paul Evered

Dr. James Gray, Health Minister Terry Lake, Jonathan Abbey, Gail Attara, and Paul Evered at the 2015 Inside Affair.

News Release from the BC Ministry of Health

Vancouver – October 30, 2015 – To help British Columbians living with digestive illnesses, Health Minister Terry Lake announced $100,000 to the Gastrointestinal Society.

“With no known cure for these illnesses, the education and support the Gastrointestinal Society provides patients is key to helping them manage their symptoms and take back control of their lives,” said Lake, who announced the funding at the society’s Inside Affair gala. “This funding reflects government’s commitment to strengthen health promotion, which can give patients tools to help prevent or delay illness.”

The funding will help bring the society’s BadGut® lecture series to more communities in the Lower Mainland, and launch four new videos on irritable bowel syndrome and its treatments. The lectures and videos educate patients, families and the general public about the diseases and how to find and use resources, reducing the stigma and misinformation around gastrointestinal illnesses.

“We are so grateful for the Ministry of Health’s commitment to British Columbians who suffer in silence with irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS,” said Gail Attara, CEO and co-founder of the Gastrointestinal Society. “IBS is a common bowel disorder affecting as many as 20% of the population. Its symptoms cover a range of chronic altered bowel functions, including abdominal pain, bloating and gas, constipation, and diarrhea, or alternating between the two stool consistencies. Finding a solution is not a simple process, as disease management can include a trial and error approach to lifestyle and diet modifications, and might include medication therapy.”

Anyone can attend the free lectures to learn medically-sound advice to better understand and manage gastrointestinal symptoms and illnesses. These illnesses affect the digestive system – most commonly the stomach, and small and large intestines. The lectures are created in partnership with gastroenterologists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, nursing specialists and registered dietitians to make sure the information is safe, accurate and up-to-date. Common digestive illnesses include irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s and Celiac Disease.

The videos provide an overview of irritable bowel syndrome and outline treatment options. Irritable bowel syndrome affects the large intestine and commonly causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation. The videos are made in B.C., available in French and English, and all information is sourced and supplied by Canadian health professionals.

“An increasing number of individuals are looking on their own for valid, unbiased, and trusted information that explains their symptoms and GI disorders. We are grateful to the Ministry of Health in recognizing that these British Columbians need the answers we can provide,” said Dr. James Gray, gastroenterologist, faculty of medicine, University of British Columbia; co-founder of the Gastrointestinal Society and chair of its Medical Advisory Council. “The GI Society offers this information and the understanding that they are ‘not alone’ with their sometimes awkward and difficult symptoms.”

The Gastrointestinal Society provides evidence-based information on all aspects of gastrointestinal health. Through research, advocacy, education and awareness, the society promotes gastrointestinal and liver health to help patients, their families and their caregivers manage their illnesses.

As outlined in the ministry’s strategic plan, “Setting Priorities for the B.C. Health System”, patient-centred care and health promotion strategies like the ones provided by the society support the future of B.C.’s sustainable, high-quality health care system.

Learn more:

To learn more about the Gastrointestinal Society, including information on digestive illnesses, visit:

For more information about the ministry’s strategic priorities, visit:

Media Contact:
Laura Heinze
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)

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